ECOWAS Parliament to Discuss Morocco’s Membership

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• Nigeria remains adamant on country’s admission

Alex Enumah in Abuja

Morocco’s application to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would be part of deliberations as parliamentarians from the subregion resume the 2018 First Ordinary Session in Abuja.

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Moustapha Cisse Lo, who made the disclosure yesterday in an aside with journalists, noted that the move would further deepen integration of the African continent.

However, Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon Yussuf Lasun, citing economic consideration said Nigeria remains steadfast to her earlier position on the matter.

While ECOWAS is made up of 15 West African countries, none shares its borders with Morocco, a North African country.

At the resumption of plenary yesterday, Moroccan parliament was represented by two of its deputy speakers, Hon. Rachid El Abdi and Hon. Amina Maelainine.

Speaking to journalists, on the presence of the visitors at the opening session, Cisse Lo, who noted that the practice was a usual part of parliamentary diplomacy however said the development would be beneficial to all.

“I do not agree that we should not involve Morocco in what we are doing because some people are saying they are very much ahead. I’m of the opinion that we should cooperate with them because doing that, we are all going to win,” Cisse Lo said.

According to him, their have been high level collaboration between ECOWAS and Morocco, adding that a memorandum of understanding on capacity building for parliamentarians was recently signed by the two.

“Parliamentary diplomacy is part of our mission. That is the reason we are in discussion with countries that are outside of ECOWAS. We want Africa to be united and prosperous and you cannot but work with neighbouring countries and others. That is the case of morocco,” he said.

He added that based on invitation, the leadership of the ECOWAS Parliament visited Morocco last year.

“We hope to discuss the issue, it is on our agenda and we will discuss it on the floor of the house”, he said.

On the issue of the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Zone, he commended most African leaders for appending their signiture, noting that it would facilitate the realisation of the African project.

While, respecting the sovereignty of member States of the regional block, he said he however look forward to a situation where Africa would speak with one voice on issues.

He disclosed that the Parliament starting from this session would commence its oversight functions of projects and programmes carried out by the community agencies as part of exercising its powers over the supplementary act of the commission.

Responding to Morocco’s presence at the plenary, Lasun, however, expressed concern on the economic implication of Morocco’s membership.

He said “any government that refuses to think about the economic aspect of life, that country is doomed.”

“Morocco is still observing the observer status so they are not yet part of the ECOWAS. As at the last report, the Authority of the Heads of Government of ECOWAS has set up a committee, reviewing the possible inclusion of Morocco into the ECOWAS.

“So, they are not part, they are only observing, and of course it is done like that all over the world. We all go to other parliamentary unions as observers,” Lasun, said.

Answering question on whether Morocco is likely to be accepted into ECOWAS, he said “it is probably going to take a long time before such a feat can be achieved.”

Earlier, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, assured the Parliament of his unflinching support to drive forward the regional integration process.

He said he would in the next few days present to the Parliament, the status of the community.