Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, are part of high profile guests expected to grace the occasion commemorating the 51st Ordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of States and Governments to be held at the newly constructed Farmington Hotel in Margibi County.
High-level delegations from the European Union and the African Union, headed by the chairperson of the Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki, among others, will also be here. These dignitaries are expected to land in Liberia on June 3.
PM Netanyahu’s participation in the summit, it is believed, is predicated upon a new foreign policy of Israel to have a huge presence in Africa. “He wants to come to make a case here in the presence of leaders of the region for his country,” a diplomatic source told the Daily Observer in Monrovia.
According to reports, security details and the advance team of the Israeli PM are already in the country to prepare the grounds for the PM’s arrival. It was recently reported that the Israeli advance security team condemned the security situation on the ground, especially the area surrounding Farmington Hotel where the Summit will be held and is expected to host some of the dignitaries.
It is also being reported that the Israeli security team would take charge of security issues at the RIA during the stay of PM Netanyahu and his delegation.
During her visit few months ago to Israel, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was asked by PM Netanyahu to help plead on Israel’s behalf for the regaining of the Middle Eastern nation’s observer status at the African Union. The President reportedly promised to have consultations with colleagues to see that the Israeli PM’s request is granted.
Palestine, Israel’s Middle East archrival, has an observer status at the African Union, which Israel craves. Interestingly, Israel was an observer member of the Organization of African Unity until the OAU was dissolved and replaced by the African Union in 2002. Then, under pressure from Libya’s former strongman Muammar Gaddafi, Israel lost this status, something it is frantically working to regain.
Palestine, by contrast, was granted this status in 2013. As a result, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has the ability to address the organization, and has done so in the past.
Also gracing the High-Level Summit in Liberia will be a high power delegation from the Kingdom of Morocco that is seeking to be a full member of the West African regional bloc.
Morocco, in a recent communication to President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as chair of ECOWAS, expressed its interest to join the regional group as a full member.
Morocco said the plan to join the 15-member regional bloc is in line with provisions of the ECOWAS founding treaty, and in full satisfaction of its membership criteria.
According to Morocco, the decision was informed by the need “to crown the strong political, human, historical, religious and economic ties at all levels with ECOWAS member countries.”
Morocco also maintains institutional relations with ECOWAS, through an observer status, which has been in place for several years.
The Kingdom has participated in several meetings of ECOWAS and has contributed to its activities in the past.
Morocco was recently re-admitted into the African Union (AU) after over three decades of voluntary withdrawal from the continental body.
UN SG Guterres, for his part, will be visiting the country for the first time since taking over from Ban Ki-moon last year.