Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gbeho: A man of honour, duty and experience...

Gbeho says Jammeh-administration held sham-elections in 2011
The ECOWAS Commission on March 6, 2012 hosted its outgoing President, His Excellency James Victor Gbeho, to a farewell party which was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of development partners and staff members.

Held at the Commission’s Abuja headquarters, the new President, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, who assumed office five days earlier, described Mr Gbeho as “a man of honour, a man of duty and a man of experience.”

“His contribution to the integration efforts in West Africa is quite remarkable,” President Ouedraogo said, adding, “ECOWAS is very grateful to him and his team.”

However, Mr Gbeho might be seen by The Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh government as “an instigator who for once attempted to ruin the peace of the country.” This is simply because the ECOWAS Commission under Mr Gbeho accused the APRC-led government of The Gambia of holding sham-elections.

On the eve of the country’s much-talked about  presidential elections (November 23, 2011), the sub-regional economic bloc -the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced it was withdrawing from its proposed “observer mission to Banjul.”
It said the election process was being held in a “climate of fear” and that the opposition has been cowed, adding that the election will not be “free, fair or transparent”, hence the environment under which the process was being conducted fell short of meeting the minimum standards for holding free, fair and transparent elections.

President Jammeh speaks to reporters as he leaves voting center in Banjul/Pic/(AFP)
An “unhappy” president Jammeh said, Mr Gbeho was not worth responding to, when asked about his reaction to the ECOWAS statement after he cast his ballot on November 24.  

The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mustapha L. Carayol, had called ECOWAS liars and says they would be held responsible if chaos were to erupt as a result of the damning statement issued 24 hours before Gambians head to the polls.  

A few days later, Gambia’s foreign affairs ministry condemned ECOWAS’s decision to boycott its presidential elections. In a statement, the ministry said: “the Government is utterly dismayed by, and condemns in the strongest unequivocal terms the decision not to send an observer mission to Gambia for November 24 elections.”

However, on Tuesday, President Ouedraogo expressed gratitude to Ex-President Gbeho “for the numerous achievements realized under his able leadership” and hoped that “he would continue to put his talent and vast experience at the service of not only his country, Ghana, but the entire region of West Africa.”

In his response, Mr Gbeho returned compliments to his successor and his new management team, saying he was happy to bequeath to them an ECOWAS that is relatively more peaceful and stable with a solid foundation for true economic integration.

He alluded to the challenges faced by the region two years ago when he assumed office and how the Community was able to overcome them with determination, commitment and cooperation of his team, coupled with the strong support of regional leaders and development partners.

Former Commission president Gbeho, a seasoned diplomat, philanthropist and former Foreign Minister of Ghana, joined the ECOWAS Commission in March 2010 to complete the unexpired tenure of his country.

His achievements include the successful steering of the Commission’s transformational agenda which started in 2007 and bringing vitality and new momentum to the irreversible process for the realization of the dream of the ECOWAS founding fathers through the new Vision 2020 for a people-centred regional integration.

Highlight of the farewell ceremony was the presentation of a gift to President Gbeho by the Commissioner for Finance and Administration, Mrs. Khady Ramatu Sacco, on behalf of the Commission.

In his opening remarks earlier, Vice President of the Commission, Dr. Toga Mcintosh, presented the new President and new Commissioners to the guests.

The Commission’s new management team comprises:
President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo

Vice-President Toga Mcintosh
Dr. Lapodini Marc Atouga – Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources
Mr. Hamid Ahmed – Trade, Customs, Industry, Mines and Free Movement
Amb. Ibrahim Ba – Macroeconomic Policy
Mr. Ebrima Njie – Infrastructure
Mrs. Khady Ramatu Sacco – Administration and Finance
Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman – Political Affairs, Peace and Security and,
Dr. Adrienne Diop – Human Development and Gender

Last updated March 22, 2012  1231h

Author: Modou S. Joof

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