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Apr 28, 2014

President Mahama Promises To Facilitate Negotiations For EPA

President John Dramani Mahama has indicated the willingness of Ghana to support negotiations that would lead to the signing of the Economic Partnerships Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).

He however, said the country would want the negotiation to take place at the sub-regional level rather than unilateral decisions.

Receiving a delegation of the ECOWAS Parliament at the Flagstaff House, the President said, “Ghana will continue to play a facilitating role in the signing of the EPA, especially now that we have assumed the chairmanship position of ECOWAS.”

Led by Senator Ike Ekweremadu, President of the ECOWAS Parliament, the delegation was at the seat of government to brief the President about a two-day meeting being held by the Parliament in Ghana, and also to congratulate him on his recent election as chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State.

Stating that it was much better for countries in the sub region to negotiate the EPA as a body, President Mahama said, “It will be disastrous if we go unilaterally.”

He said ECOWAS would count on the sub-regional Parliament in reaching a favourable agreement with the EU on the EPA.

On integration, President Mahama expressed worry that in spite of the signing of protocols on the free movement of goods and people, the people of West Africa were still encountering difficulties crossing from one country to another.

He mentioned illegal road checks and multiple border crossings, as some of the difficulties facing the sub- region.

He said under the cross-protocols, customs and immigration officials of neighbouring countries would be at one common border point and do their checks on persons crossing instead of the current individualistic checks.

Mr Mahama said already the process to implement the system from Nigeria through Benin, Togo and Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire had begun.

He added: “We should also come into agreement with the other checks done by the security services.

“Often a lot of the security people erect illegal road checks and harass citizens going about their legitimate businesses, “he stated.

To address this problem, the president suggested that sister countries reached a consensus on where security check points should be located.

President Mahama promised to work at strengthening democracy in the sub-region and also tackle issues relating to security.

“We want democracy to be strongly rooted in West Africa,” he said and added that, next year, five West Africa nations would be holding presidential elections, which he hoped would pass on peacefully.

He said Ghana would support Nigeria in dealing with the Boko Haram menace.

On behalf of the Parliament, Senator Ekweremadu congratulated President Mahama on his election to the ECOWAS chair and expressed the hope that he would excel during his tenure.

The ECOWAS President appealed to the regional body to look at addressing youth unemployment, which was becoming a canker.

Present was the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Mr Edward Doe-Adjaho. – GNA