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ECOWAS under Ouattara.

The first Ivorian President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny (1960-1993), played a crucial role in launching the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975, despite his initial concerns about Nigeria's influence in the West African region (Houphouet was one of the key leaders of the Francophone bloc). Yet he intentionally never sought to rule the organisation, and in fact no Ivorian President has ever chaired ECOWAS.

Ouattara's appointment in February (as new head of West Africa's regional bloc, replacing Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan) is consistent with the diplomatic and institutional efforts undertaken by the majority of ECOWAS states to end the political stalemate in Cote d'Ivoire.

The key test will probably be Ouattara's ability to push through initiatives designed to boost intra-regional trade, develop the ECOWAS transportation network and further increase energy cooperation. While a single ECOWAS currency will most likely not materialise in the foreseeable future, more regional economic integration is not inconceivable.

Samir Gadio

London, UK

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Title Annotation:Readers' views
Author:Gadio, Samir
Publication:New African
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Apr 1, 2012
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