Umaro Sisoko Embalo, President of Guinea-Bissau, was unanimously elected President of ECOWAS and Chairman of the Government Authority.
He took over from Ghanaian President Nana Addo Danqua Akufo-Ador, who has served the community for two terms since 2020.
Embalo will have to deal with the difficult political and security situation facing its predecessor, as well as rising food prices in the region due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The new chairman will also have the challenge of uniting the bloc to restore constitutional rule in the trio of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, which are under military authority.
President Akufo-Ado has handed over this position with a legacy of strong leadership that helped the region manage the COVID-19 crisis.
Another feather in his cap was his pressure to uphold democratic ideals in the region, and his recognized resistance to overthrowing constitutionally elected governments.
He is widely credited with assembling his counterparts to honor their term of office.
President Akufo-Addo, who chaired his last meeting of the authorities, called on the bloc to adopt an integrated approach to addressing security concerns in the region.
He appealed to his counterparts to commit to implementing a regional action plan against terrorism to reduce the threat of terrorism.
“To this end, our resolve must be stronger than ever and we must be committed to maintaining the stability of our region and its member states.”
The president also called on member states to pay more attention to agriculture in order to enable the region to achieve food security amid rising food prices due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
He urged member states to remain vigilant against the COVID-19 epidemic because “the threat is still around,” noting that the region could not yet bear another blow from the epidemic while currently fighting serious and unstable political and security threats.
“The management of this epidemic illustrates the ability of our organization to consolidate our strengths in the face of a significant general threat. However, we must be careful because COVID-19 is still around, ”he said.