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Scientists lose Senegal hotels to ECOWAS forum

October 23, 2013

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Around 700 scientists who had booked tickets to fly to Senegal this week for a conference on diseases were told days before their forum was to start that the hotel where they were to meet had been booked instead for a regional ECOWAS summit.

The biennial forum of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership had been scheduled months ago, but organizers were forced to cancel it because of a “sudden change of venue” for the ECOWAS summit, according to an email sent to participants last week. Originally planned for Lome, Togo, the summit will now take place at Dakar’s King Fahd Hotel, the largest in Dakar and the venue-of-choice for visiting heads of state.

“We deeply regret this had to be done,” said EDCTP communications officer Gert Onne van de Klashorst. “It’s difficult to reschedule because it takes a huge amount of organization. In the meantime, these projects progress, so maybe people have to prepare other presentations.”

In addition to discussing research on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, the research forum is also an important networking event and allows for the training of doctoral students, van de Klashorst said.

The email informing participants of the cancellation said an alternative venue could not be found on such short notice.

The ECOWAS summit for regional heads of state will focus on the economy and also touch on the political situations in Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, according to a statement issued Tuesday. ECOWAS officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Senegalese government spokesman Abdou Latif Coulibaly said ministers were informed of the venue change three months ago, and that he did not know why forum organizers weren’t told earlier.

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