Leaders meet Monday in Abuja over regional crises

Leaders meet Monday in Abuja over regional crises

West African leaders , including Togo President Faure Gnassingbé, will on Monday hold a summit in Abuja to discuss recent political developments in several member states, an official statement by regional bloc ECOWAS said Wednesday.

"Regional leaders will review the recent political developments in west Africa, particularly the situations in Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Niger during their 36th summit in Abuja on June 22," the statement said.At their last summit in Abuja in January, the leaders had expressed their "preoccupation" with the crisis in Guinea after a military take-over the previous month in the country.

The political crisis in Guinea-Bissau was sparked by the brutal murder of former president Joao Bernardo Vieira on March 2 by members of the army apparently in retaliation for a bomb attack that killed army chief general Batista Tagme Na Waie.

Vieira had ruled the west African country for 23 years.

Niger President Mamadou Tandja's planned referendum in August on a new constitution that could keep him in power is also creating tension in his country.

The one-day mid-year summit will also discuss negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union and the harmonisation of Value Added Tax legislation among community's 15 members, it said.

The leaders will also discuss the impact of the global economic and financial crises on the region and how to mitigate its effects on member states.

A special ECOWAS-Spain summit to be attended by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero and some west African heads of state will be held on Monday, the statement added. Mr. Zapatero will travel to Togo on June 23.

Presidents Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, with the prime minister of Cape Verde, Jose Maria Neves, will make presentations at the summit, the statement further said.



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