Looming time bomb for ECOWAS countries as pirate, terrorist activities rise

Senior ECOWAS officials and key stakeholders have warned of a looming time bomb linked to the increased incidence of piracy and terrorism in the region and are urging the regional body to take all necessary measures to robustly arrest the situation.

Participants at the 6th retreat of ECOWAS Institutions, Ambassadors of Member States accredited to Abuja and Heads of National Units held in Accra, Ghana, warned that the phenomenon could reverse the general improvement in the political and security situation in the region, achieved through hard work in recent years.

They made an apparent reference to the increasing frequency of pirate activities in the Gulf of Guinea and the threat posed by Boko Haram and similar terrorist organizations in the region.

They warned that “the political and security environment remained fragile despite the general improvements in economic, political and security outlook, as manifested by ‘the recent post-electoral disputes and the upsurge of piracy, terrorism and other forms of international organized crimes,” said ECOWAS in a statement November 16, 2011.

In response to the specific threat of piracy, ECOWAS said the chiefs of defence staff of 10 of the Member States, that constitute a sub-committee of the regional committee of chiefs of defence staff, are to meet in Cotonou, Benin Republic at the end of the month (November) to propose a coordinated regional response.

The three-day retreat, an annual platform for a comprehensive review of the activities of the Commission and other Community institutions towards agreeing mechanisms to promote synergy, also made other proposals for improving the effectiveness of integration programmes by ensuring their effective ownership by Member States.

Among them, the statement said “is a recommendation for long-term electoral assistance by ECOWAS to Member States to enable the Commission contributes to the rationalization of electoral cycles, resolution of voter registration issues and post-electoral disputes.”

On the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being negotiated by the region with the European Union, the statement notes that the meeting urged ECOWAS to take all necessary measures to conclude a regional EPA that is “just, development-oriented and capable of promoting regional integration.

The retreat also urged the EU to show flexibility in its position during the negotiations and appreciate the concerns flowing from the region’s level of development, which drives West Africa’s position on the areas of divergence, it adds.

The regional body indicated that the protracted negotiations have stalled over disagreements mainly on the issues of market access, the EPA development programme – a fund to improve regional infrastructure and ensure the competitiveness of the region’s industries, as well as ECOWAS’s self-financing arrangement called the Community Levy.

The retreat participants expressed satisfaction with efforts being made to diversify and intensify partnerships with the emerging economic powers, such as Brazil, China and India, and urged the Commission to facilitate greater involvement of Member States in the process, particularly in infrastructural development.

“In this regard, they welcomed the progress made with the development of the framework to govern the operations of National Units, the focal points for EOWAS affairs in Member States, and called for the document to be enriched in identified areas,” the statement said.

By Ekow Quandzie

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.