As newly-elected Sierra Leonian president Koroma returns from meeting both ECOWAS and Mano River Union officials, ECOWAS ministers are meeting today, Tuesday, here in Accra.
The objective of their meeting is to discuss ECOWAS's free movement protocol.
Top on the agenda will be:
ways of overcoming problems militating against the implementation of the protocol dealing effectively in countering the ignorance of citizens about their rights under the 1979 protocol effectively dealing with the harmonisation of the ECOWAS passport, adopted by Headds of State of Government in 2000, "including the incorporation of biometric features such as digital photographs and thumb prints which not only enhance security but also reduce the possibility of fraud and forgery" (from:http://www.afriquenligne.fr/index2.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9246&pop=1&page=0&Itemid=115
While we can balk at CARICOM earlier this year for having failed to "secure" a free movement protocol by way of its Cricket World Cup, we can at least hope they might also be monitoring events worldwide to see how best to bring into fruition a visa-free area -- as exempplified by the ECOWAS-zone in 2007 -- where West African citizens can veritably make any of the fifteen countries their residence for a good 90 days, before regularising.
Right now, though, the ECOWAS passport, in my view, ought to be harmonised in ALL countries.
For it to be applicable in only SIX member states some 28 years after the free protocol was adopted is a woeful expression of where ECOWAS has gone. These six countries currently using the passport are: Benin, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal ; the others using an ECOWAS travel certificate are: Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone
"Fixed deadlines" and "operationalisation" come to mind in a fast and furious way!
Here's hoping that the leaders meeting in the three-day meet here in Accra will be (im)pressed upon by us--common and concerned citizens--to come up with a date that is more definitive than one comparable to what is looking like a pie-in-the-sky date of 2009 for the ECO--ECOWAS' regional currency.
In checking ECOWAS's news website here, the last meeting you see is that of 19 September!
Without a google search, how on earth would anyone have known about this meeting? ECOWAS, PULL your socks up.
You are now a Commission--and things gotta get a-changing...
Now, chance would be a fine thing!