Buhari, other West African leaders meet, want debts cancelled over coronavirus

President Muhammadu Buhari and other West African leaders on Thursday met via teleconference in an extraordinary summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to review the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on their economies.

The leaders advocated the cancellation of the region’s debts to enable it weather the storm of the disease ravaging the world.

Speaking at the occasion, Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Niger Republic, Alhaji Mahamadou Issoufou, highlighted the devastating effects of the virus on human and economies of the member-states.

He called for collaborative efforts among the member-states to combat the pandemic, which he observed, had already claimed many lives in the region and beyond.

The ECOWAS chairman, who spoke in French language, pleaded for a total debt cancellation for African countries to enable the continent to survive the post-coronavirus era.

While commending the World Bank and Africa Development Bank (AfDB) for their contributions so far towards fighting the spread of coronavirus, Issoufou urged the two financial institutions to do more for the African continent so as to save more lives.

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel (SRSG), Mr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, in his remark at the meeting, reiterated the determination of the UN to continue to partner with the African Union the ECOWAS in fighting the virus.

He also called for debt cancellation for African countries as part of palliatives to cushion the effects of the virus on their various economies.

President of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, had earlier in April in a statement announced financial donations and equipment to its member states in support of their fight against the pandemic.

Kassi Brou reaffirmed the commission’s solidarity with member states as they battle to contain the COVID-19 scourge.

About 13 ECOWAS leaders attended the meeting.