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9th ECCAS Extraordinary Session holds in Gabon with groundbreaking reforms

Upon convocation by His Excellency Alain-Claude BILIE-BY-NZE, Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Gabonese Republic, in his capacity as President-in-Office of the Council of Ministers of ECCAS and in accordance with the directives of the 9th extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government, the Council of Ministers held by videoconference, on June 03 and 04, 2020, its 9th extraordinary session.

The Ministers in charge of Foreign Affairs / External Relations, Regional Integration, Health and Finance of the eleven (11) ECCAS member states took part in the session.

The opening ceremony was chaired by His Excellency Alain-Claude BILIE-BY-NZE. It was punctuated by the welcoming speech of His Excellency Ambassador Ahmad ALLAM-MI, Secretary-General of ECCAS and the opening address by the Chairman-in-Office of the Council of Ministers of ECCAS.

In their remarks, the two personalities emphasized the need to speed up the process of ratification of the revised ECCAS Treaty as instructed by the Conference of Heads of State and Government, in order to facilitate its entry into force. force as well as the establishment of the Commission. The two speakers also expressed their sincere condolences to all member states whose citizens have lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council adopted its agenda relating to six (6) items, namely:

  • The state of ratification of the revised ECCAS Treaty;
  • The state of contribution arrears clearance;
  • The question of candidates for the posts of Vice-President and Commissioners;
  • The organizational arrangements for the next Conference of Heads of State and Government;
  • The political and security situation in the Central African Republic;
  • COVID-19’s regional pandemic response strategy.

State of ratification of the revised ECCAS Treaty

The Council took stock of the state of play of the ratification process in the member states. It appears that only Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea have ratified the revised treaty and are in the process of transmitting to the General Secretariat of ECCAS, the instruments of its ratification. In the other eight countries, the ratification process is well underway at the level of the respective Governments and Parliaments.

The Council thanked and congratulated the member states that finalized their process of ratifying the revised treaty despite the health crisis linked to COVID-19 and urged other countries to do the same.

The Council insisted on the need to comply with the maximum deadline of six months, fixed by the Heads of State and Government to proceed to the ratification of the revised Treaty signed on December 18. To this end, the Council has retained the deadline of June 30, 2020, as the deadline for achieving ratification of the revised Treaty by all member states.

State of the settlement of arrears of contribution to the financing of the Community

The Council took note of the report of the General Secretariat on the state of the settlement of arrears of member states’ contributions to the financing of the community.

Referring to the acts of the 9th extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government, the Council noted that only three countries have paid the full 40% of the sums due despite the economic and financial crisis. He urged the countries which have not yet done so to clear all of the 40% of arrears required before the end of June 2020. In this regard, the Council instructed the General Secretariat to communicate again to all Member States, the statement of arrears due for 40% and the 60% clearance schedule approved by the Conference.

The Council concluded its deliberations on the settlement of arrears of contributions by expressing its satisfaction following the payments of arrears of contributions and the announcements made by certain States.

Question of candidates for posts on the ECCAS Commission

The Council took note of the report of the Committee of Ambassadors relating to the candidatures received for the posts of Vice-president and Commissioners of the ECCAS. Having noted that no Member State has fulfilled the eligibility criteria for the various posts, namely the payment of the 40% of arrears due and the ratification of the revised Treaty, the Council did not proceed to the evaluation of the candidatures. It has set a deadline of 30 June 2020 for member states to comply with these criteria.

In addition, for the sake of inclusiveness, the Council agreed that Rwanda, which had not submitted candidates at the start of the process, could do so before the deadline. To this end, the Council of Ministers has instructed the Committee of Ambassadors to examine the candidacy files and report to them at the next extraordinary session scheduled for early July 2020.

The Council of Ministers took note of the candidacy of Ambassador Gilberto Da Piedade VERISSIMO presented by the Republic of Angola for the post of President of the ECCAS Commission and recommends it to the Conference of Heads of State and Government.

Organization of the next Conference of Heads of State and Government

The Council followed the communication from the General Secretariat on the constraints and possible options for the organization of the next Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECCAS. The constraints noted concern: (i) the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its corollaries in terms of restricting the movement of people; (ii) reaching the required threshold of seven (07) ratifications of the revised Treaty for its entry into force and (iii) clearing 40% of arrears of contributions to the financing of the Community. Notwithstanding these constraints, the two options presented relate to the face-to-face or videoconference holding of the Ordinary Conference during the second half of July 2020.

The Council endorsed the recommendations of the Secretary-General and decided to submit them to the Very High Orientations of the President-in-Office of the Conference of Heads of State.

Political and security situation in the Central African Republic

The Council followed the presentation of the report of the Early Warning Mechanism of Central Africa (MARAC) on the political and security situation in the Central African Republic. It took note of it and decided to transmit the updated report to the Chairman in office for competence.

Regional response strategy to COVID-19

The Council took note of the regional response strategy to COVID-19, presented by the General Secretariat of ECCAS, which highlights the economic, social, political and security vulnerability of the region as well as the difficulties of managing this pandemic in terms of insufficient public health systems in the member states.

At the end of the discussions, the Ministers adopted the four axes of the regional response strategy to COVID-19 and instructed the General Secretariat to organize a meeting of the Ministers of Health of the ECCAS member states preceded by that of the experts to refine the regional response strategy.

At the end of its work, the Council expressed its gratitude to His Excellency Ali BONGO ONDIMBA, President of the Gabonese Republic, President-in-Office of the ECCAS, for his leadership and his constant commitment to the achievement of the institutional reform of ECCAS.

The Council renewed its sincere thanks to the President of the Council of Ministers and to the Secretary-General of ECCAS for the technical and logistical arrangements put in place to facilitate the holding by videoconference, the work of the 9th extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers of the ECCAS.