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ECOWAS to end the ‘discrimination and harassment’

May 19, 2014, 10:57 AM

We understand that ECOWAS “has launched the process for the review of its flagship free movement protocol,” and that “this is aimed at eliminating the requirement for residence permit which has been a source of discrimination and harassment of community citizens.”

ECOWAS Commission president Kadré Desire Ouédraogo was reported to have disclosed this recently in Abuja, when he received the letters accrediting Burkina Faso’s new special representative to ECOWAS.

“We hope the revised instrument will be signed during the next summit of regional leaders so that our people can feel as one people,” he said about the 35-year-old protocol on free movement of persons, the right of residence and establishment.

That this will happen so soon would be a most welcomed development!

Indeed, although it is a good source of revenue for our states, the annual enforcement of the collection of the residence permit fee is always a period when Africans who are “foreigners” in our countries feel harassed to pay up.

Also, the residence permit fee has definitely been evidence of blatant “discrimination” among Africans, most of whose leaders are self-proclaimed “Pan Africanists”.

The protocol entitles community citizens to visit countries within the region for 90 days without a visa, making ECOWAS the only regional economic community (REC) in Africa with such a visa-free regime.

Under the protocol, citizens enjoy the right of entry, stay, residence, establishment and access to the community court of justice, but some challenges have been reported in the implementation.

The recurring border problems between the Gambia and Senegal, related to the movement of vehicles, persons, goods and services, are instances of the said “challenges”.

“History teaches us that unity is strength, and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity.”

Haile Selassie