Leaders of fifteen West African states and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are in Liberia’s capital Monrovia for the 51st Ordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This is the first ECOWAS Summit to be held in Liberia and it’s the first time a non-African leader has been invited to speak at the forum.
Netanyahu addressed the gathering on Sunday saying: “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise.”
The Israeli prime minister’s trip comes nearly a year after he was in East Africa as part of his efforts to strengthen ties between the continent and Israel.
ECOWAS leaders have in principle approved Morocco’s membership application despite the country being in North Africa, but they said the implications of its membership still needed to be considered before Morocco could formally join.
Morroco’s King Mohammed VI, who was expected to push for his country to join the regional grouping as a full member after a successful bid to rejoin the African Union early this year, cancelled his attendance. His cancellation was due to the attendance of the Israeli Prime Minister to “avoid any confusion”.
Other leaders present at the Summit in Liberia are Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Burkina Faso’s President Roch Kabore and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara among other delegates.