Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a group photograph with West African leaders at the 51st ECOWAS Summit of Heads of State and Governments in Monrovia, Liberia. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is second from left on the back row.
Nigeria was conspicuously absent from the 51st ECOWAS Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Liberia’s capital Monrovia, Daily Trust reports.
The two day summit, which started on Saturday, was attended by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He will be the first non-African leader to ever address an ECOWAS Summit and also the first Israeli leader to visit West Africa since the 1960s.
Daily Trust could not get the details of Nigeria’s decision not to attend the summit which, sources alluded, may not be unconnected to the presence of the Israeli PM.
When contacted, the spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affair, Clement Aduku, confirmed that there was no Nigerian government representatives at the summit but could not give the reason for the country’s absence.
However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was at the summit.
Morroco’s King Mohammed VI, who was expected to push for his country to join the West African bloc as a full member, cancelled his trip due to Netanyahu’s presence.
King Mohammed VI cancelled his trip “to avoid any confusion”, said a statement from the country’s foreign affairs ministry.
“King Mohammed VI wishes his first presence at an ECOWAS summit not to take place in a context of tension and controversy,” it said.
Morocco, like several African countries supported Palestine’s observer status at the United Nations in 2012.
Speaking at the summit yesterday, Netanyahu urged African leaders to partner with his country to build the continent’s capacity.
“I come here as an instruction of the simple truth, Israel is coming to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential, present and future,” he said.
Netanyahu also invited the leaders of the ECOWAS member-states to the Africa-Israel summit in Togo in October where he is expected to meet with the leaders of 25 African countries to discuss multilateral cooperation.
Meanwhile, the Summit named the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe as the new chairperson of the regional bloc, taking over from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.