Since the establishment of the 15-member sub-regional organization on May 28, 1975 (42 years ago), this is the first time that Liberia has served as Chair of the ECOWAS Authority.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf assumed the position when she was elected Chair of the ECOWAS Authority in Dakar, Senegal on June 4, 2016.
Liberia first hosted a major conference in July 1979 when President William R. Tolbert was elected Chairperson of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), held in Virginia, Liberia, but was assassinated nine months later on April 12, 1980.
A Foreign Ministry release states that as all the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have confirmed their participation, President Sirleaf, as host of this historic meeting, will welcome her colleagues to Liberia during the opening ceremonies at the Farmington Hotel in lower Margibi County.
She will later address the 51st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government as Chair of the ECOWAS Authority.
Other personalities expected to make remarks at the opening session include the President of ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza; the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas; and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki.
Others are the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Ms. Federica Mogherini and the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, who is an official guest of the ECOWAS Commission.
Side events scheduled at the 51st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority are the signing of the Dakar-Abidjan Highway Treaty, Declaration by the Liberian Political Parties contesting the forthcoming Presidential Elections, and an ECOWAS-Israel Joint Declaration.
A groundbreaking ceremony of the Regional Electric Energy Project that comprises Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has also been planned to take place.
As the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government revert to their closed-door meeting, high on the agenda for consideration are: the application for ECOWAS Membership by the Kingdom of Morocco, request by Tunisia for observer status, and the Memorandum on the Association Agreement between ECOWAS and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
Also, up for consideration are the reports of the ECOWAS mid-year statutory meetings that convened in the country over the last few days, including Reports of the Ad-Hoc Ministerial Committee on Institutional Reforms and End of Tenure of Statutory Appointees; 78th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers; 38th Ordinary Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council and the 2017 Interim Report of ECOWAS.
At the end of this Meeting, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government will elect a new Chair of the Authority and decide on a date and venue of the 52nd Ordinary Session of Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.