ABUJA: ECONOMIC Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders will during their upcoming summit decide on a ministerial proposal to improve the implementation of the region’s flagship free movement protocol through the introduction of a biometric identity card system for citizens.
The two-day meeting starts Friday in Accra, Ghana.
According to a press statement from the headquarters of the regional body in Abuja, the proposal by the ministers of internal affairs of Member States seeks to resolve one of the impediments to the seamless implementation of the 1978 regional Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment.
It would make ECOWAS the only regional Economic Community in Africa with a visa-free regime.
“The card with biologist features and which will be easier to access than national passports is expected to facilitate intra-community movement of citizens without compromising security. The 45th ordinary summit will also consider the proposal by the ministers for the abolition of the residence permit requirements for community citizens as part of the reform to the Protocol,” a statement read.
It added that the mid-year summit would consider a report on the community’s main activities and projects over the first half of this year to be presented by the President of the ECOWAS Commission Desire Kadré Ouédraogo as well as on the deadly Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
“The regional leaders will also be briefed on the situation in Mali, especially the status of the mediation efforts being undertaken by Presidents Blaise Compaoré and Goodluck Jonathan as well as the situation in Guinea-Bissau where successful legislative and presidential elections were recently concluded paving the way for the inauguration of new President Jose Mario Vaz.”
The statement said Presidents of three neighbouring States of Mauritania, Cameroon and Chad had been invited to join their colleagues from the 15 ECOWAS countries at the enlarged summit.
SOURCE: CAJ NEWS AGENCY