Mano River Union Summit Held in Monrovia

The 18th Session of the Mano River Union Summit of Heads of State and Government, consisting of the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, was held in Monrovia on Thursday 15 May 2008. The sister Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, having been attending meetings of the Union as observer since2004, attended the Summit also and acceded to the Union, as its fourth bonafide member.

The Summit was attended by His Excellency Ernest Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Lansana Kouyate, Prime Minister of the Republic of Guinea, His Excellency Laurent Dona Fologo, Chair of the Economic and Social Council of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire and Proxy of the President of Cote d’Ivoire, His Excellency Laurent Gbagbo, and Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, who served as chair and host of the Summit.

During their deliberations, the leaders considered issues of common interest and concern relating to the revitalization of the Secretariat and the Sub-regional organization, the consolidation of peace and security and stability within the Mano River Union basin plus Cote d’Ivoire, and the challenges posed by the rising food prices in the region.

On all three issues, the leaders re-affirmed their strong will to combine their efforts in taking the appropriate and necessary action to deal with those current and emerging issues.

The Summit expressed delight over the progressive return to peace, security and stability in the Mano River Basin and agreed, because of the positive developments, to direct their efforts towards promoting social-economic development and integration.

To this end, and after detail consideration of the associated issues, the Summit took the following decisions:

• Approve implementation of on going projects and development of new ones to address the daunting challenges facing the region.

• Approve the provision by each of the original member country (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) the amount of US$100,000 (One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) to make advance payment benefits to qualified retired and serving staff members of the Secretariat, taking into consideration the need to alleviate financial strains on their families, pending review and verification of amounts owed them with a view to finding lasting settlement to the problems.

• Approve the provision by each Member Country the amount of US$125,000 (One Hundred Twenty Five Thousand United States Dollars) to the Secretariat’s operational budget within the next six months to support programs for the period June through December 2008, and instructed the Secretary General to prepare and present to Council a detail and well explained budget for the fiscal year 2009.

• Authorize the Secretariat to engage ECOWAS with a view to finding a more sustainable solution for funding the MRU and to continue dialogue with development partners (bilateral and multilateral) to secure support following the development of full fledge programs and projects that would benefit the Union.

• Approve the inclusion of projects in the Secretariat’s program portfolio so as to address critical peace and security matters within the Mano River basin including the control of small arms and light weapons, harmonization of legislation on arms control and other peace building measures. In this connection, they authorized the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security to meet in a month’s time and formulate concrete proposals and action plans.

• Authorize the Chairperson of the Union to undertake consultations with international bodies and partners and request Member States to pursue with the United Nations for assistance to implement proposed interventions aimed at addressing the food crises within the Union.

• Approve recommendations of the meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture with respect to food security, food production and related activities.

• Instructed the Ministers of Agriculture in collaboration with the Secretary General to prepare bankable Union projects that will attract official and private capital in support of Union objectives.

• Direct the Ministers of Agriculture to review the food security situation on a regular basis beginning with a meeting to be held one month from now.