Ghana's president takes over as head of West African bloc

Ghana's president takes over as head of West African bloc

YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast - Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama has been elected the new head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at a summit of the 15-nation regional bloc, his Ivorian predecessor announced on Saturday.

"I am very happy to tell you that yesterday (Friday) my peers... decided to name as head of ECOWAS, my brother and friend John Dramani Mahama, the president of the Republic of Ghana," said Ivory Coast's leader Alassane Ouattara in a speech at the closing of the ECOWAS summit.

Ouattara has wrapped up two one-year terms as head of the West African group during which he dealt with the democratic transition in Guinea-Bissau and the war in Mali.

Ousattara touted his achievements in Mali, which has faced a coup and Islamist insurgency during his tenure.

"The election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on August 11, 2012, was the result of a successful transition in Mali," he said.

The bloc's new leader, 55-year-old Mahama, was vice president in Ghana when president John Atta Mills died in July 2012.

He was elected the leader of a country seen as beacon of democracy in West Africa in December that year.

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