As Jammeh fails to show up
By Kemo Cham
Gambian vice president, Aja Isatou Njie Saidy, embarked on an unannounced trip to the Nigerian capital of Abuja in the beginning of the week, where she is representing the Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh, who has once again failed to show up at an important regional gathering in a long time.
Vice President Njie-Saidy who appears to have assumed Gambia’s image at the international level is representing Yahya Jammeh at the 37th Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments, which took place Tuesday 16th February in Abuja.
What is supposed to be the sub regional body’s end-of-year 2009 ordinary summit finally opened Tuesday, with the Acting President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who assumed that position after successive legal battles, presiding. The summit finally went under way after two postponements, thanks to the ill-health of Nigeria’s bedridden president, Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
Nigeria presently holds the rotating chairmanship of the 15-member regional bloc. A new chairman is supposed to emerge at the end of the summit to take over from Mr Yar’adua. Sierra Leone’s President Earnest Bai Koroma, a remarkable figure within the continent’s club of leaders, has been tipped to take over the regional bloc.
No room for misadventure
Addressing the opening of the summit, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan warned that there would be no ‘comfort zone for any political misadventure’, in an apparent reference to Guinea, where a military coup took place 22 Dec. 2008, as well as Niger, where the President has changed the constitution so he can run for a third term, reported Afrique Enligne.
Mr Jonathan assured that Nigeria would assist both nations to restore democracy and the rule of law.
“The march towards democracy and good governance … will no more be allowed to suffer,” he vowed:
The Nigerian leader’s address reportedly touched on a number of key issues, among them drug trafficking and terrorism, urging leaders of the sub-region to act and counter the phenomena.
New ECOWAS President elected
Meanwhile, report from Abuja late Tuesday indicated that the Heads of States attending the summit approved proposals for a former Ghanaian Foreign Minister, James Victor Gbeho, to take over as president of the ECOWAS Commission.
He replaces Dr. Mohammed Ibin Chambas who steps down next March to assume a new assignment as head of the 79 nation African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping.
Outgoing president, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, boasted of the prevalence of relative peace in the region, which he said had remained troubled for so long.
”No single territory of our Community is experiencing armed conflict today,” said Dr Chambas. ”The guns have long fell silent in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau, and the processes of national reconstruction, restoration of institutions and infrastructure as well as national reconciliation are fully underway,” he said.
Dr Ibn Chambas however warned that the ‘peace, security and democracy environment’ remains fragile and susceptible to reversals, and stressed the need to remain vigilant.
As Jammeh fails to show up