ECOWAS responds to critics

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Thursday said the recent attack on the sub-regional body’s apparent inapt in Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency was inaccurate judgmental outburst vulgar.

Mr James Victor Gbeho, President of ECOWAS Commission, advised people ignorant of the multiple intervention modalities of ECOWAS in situation of conflict, to gather their facts before seeking to openly castigate the organisation.

“As I speak, few are aware that the organisation is quietly but vigorously pursuing its mediation efforts in Guinea, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and indeed, in Nigeria where a terrorist aggression dangerously threatens to provoke inter-ethnic religious confrontation,” Mr Gbeho stated.

The President of ECOWAS Commission, who was addressing the opening session of sub-regional workshop on: “The West African Region: Between Peace Dividends and the Road to Recovery,” in Accra, said it was not easy to defeat faceless terrorist groups with decentralised and shifting command centres.

The workshop was organised by Kofi Anna International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Accra, in collaboration with Centre for International Peace Operations (ZIF) and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), and attended by representative from five countries, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

He said ECOWAS would continue to accept constructive criticism and encourage intellectuals and researchers to offer practical solutions to fill the gaps in sub-regional conflict management and integration agenda.

“In that respect, ECOWAS will share facts and innovative ideas about how to strengthen post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building capacities,” he said.

Mr Gbeho said ECOWAS had adopted cardinal protocols to enable the ECOWAS move from reactive intervention to more pro-active stance in conflict management through graduated, sustained, multi-actor and multi-level action.

He said the pro-active measures included continuous monitoring and assessment of conflict dynamics in the region through its early warning system in order to formulate appropriate responses.

Other measures are; effective use of quiet diplomacy through an array of ECOWAS organs and actors, including the Council of the WISE, special envoys, mediators and facilitators; deployment of fact-finding and observer missions to Member-States organising elections.

The rest are establishment of the Offices of Special Representative of the ECOWAS President to accompany reconstruction and peace-building efforts in post-conflict environment and deployment of preventive or coercive military forces as a last resort.

Mr Gbeho said ECOWAS had facilitated the establishment and functioning of Intentional Contact Groups to accompany peace consolidation in post-conflict settings in Liberia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

The President of ECOWAS Commission said that as a result of the tenacity to which the regional body had applied its conflict management tools, West Africa was steadily shedding its tag as a region of conflict into a space of democratic consolidation and stability.

Speaking on recent trends and developments in West Africa, Dr Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, KAIPTC Director of Research, said multiple security dilemmas continued to pose challenging difficulties for several West African States.

Dr Aning explained that the region was still characterised by contradictory developments with some offering cause for optimism, while there were disturbing developments that need careful evaluation.

On the one hand, there was a decrease in the number of intra-State election-related conflicts in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, with the Mano River Union area ceasing to becoming the epi-centre of the region’s election-related conflicts system.

He said the major challenge, however, was how to build peace and undertake post-war reconstruction, which entailed revamping infrastructure and building new ones; working towards economic recovery; carrying out security sector reform, judicial reform and other reforms as part of the overall governance reform processes.

Dr Aning said other critical development in the region was the holding of regular elections.

“Although there have been various scales of election related violence throughout the region, many countries continue to experience regime change through elections and not the barrel of the gun,” he said.

Source: GNA

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