Umaro Sissoco Embalo, Guinea-Bissau President has been unanimously elected Chairman of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of ECOWAS.
He takes over from Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who has served the Community for two terms since 2020.
Embalo will have to grapple with the difficult political and security situation that confronted his predecessor, as well the rising cost of food in the region occasioned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The new Chairman will also have the challenge of mobilizing the bloc to restore constitutional rule to the trio of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, who are under military authorities.
President Akufo-Addo hands over the position with the legacy of providing strong leadership that helped the region to manage the COVID-19 crisis.
Another feather in his cap was his push to maintain democratic ideals in the region, and his avowed resistance to the overthrow of constitutionally elected governments.
He is widely credited to rallying his counterparts to respect term-limits of their tenures.
President Akufo-Addo, who chaired his last meeting of the Authority, urged the bloc to adopt a coordinated approach to address the security concerns in the region.
He also impressed on his counterparts to commit to the implementation of the regional action plan against terrorism to curtail the threat of terrorism.
“Our determination in this end must be stronger than ever and equally unshaken must be our resolve to maintain the stability of our region and of its member states,” he said
The President also urged member states to focus more on agriculture to enable the region attain food sufficiency amidst the rising prices of food occasioned by the Russian war in Ukraine.
He entreated member states to stay vigilant against the COVID-19 pandemic because “the threat is still around, ” pointing out that region cannot afford another hit of the pandemic when it is presently contending with serious and destabilizing political and security threats.
“The management of this pandemic illustrates our organization’s ability to unite our energies to face a significant common threat. However, we must continue to remain vigilant as COVID-19 is still around,” he said.