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ECOWAS reviews region’s security challenges

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The Chairperson of the Council of Ministers of the ECOWAS, Mrs Marjon Kamara, has lauded the positive results the regional organisation had achieved in recent years with regard to the consolidation of peace and security in West Africa.

In an opening address at the 38th Meeting of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council (MSC) in Monrovia, Liberia on Wednesday, Mrs Kamara who is also Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, commended the Commission’s management and staff for these achievements, which in her words, continue to honour ECOWAS.

“Currently, our organisation enjoys great recognition for both the decisive and key positions of responsibility assumed by ECOWAS leaders, and equally for the strategic use of military resources in the interest of peace, stability and security of its citizens,” noted Mrs Kamara.

According to a statement issued by the ECOWAS Commission and made available to the Ghana News Agency, Mrs Kamara welcomed the peaceful resolution of the political crisis in The Gambia following the December 2016 presidential elections, hailed the smooth transfer of power in Ghana after the December 7, 2016 general elections, and expressed optimism and confidence regarding the October 2017 presidential election in Liberia.

In addition to these positive developments, Mrs Kamara also reviewed the security and political challenges facing the region.

She referred in particular to the non-implementation of the Conakry Agreement in Guinea Bissau, with negative impacts on the country’s socio-political and economic situation; terrorist attacks in the Lake Chad region; humanitarian crises, internally displaced persons and refugees, including transhumance in West Africa.

Prior to that, some of these issues and many more had been extensively addressed by the ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel de Souza.

He recalled significant events in the West African sub-region since December 2016, notably in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Mali.

On Burkina Faso, Mr de Souza underscored the efforts undertaken by the authorities to tackle the deteriorating security situation in the northern part of the country, especially at the border with Mali and attacked by many terrorist groups.

He also made mention of the numerous mutinies in Cote d’Ivoire by certain armed forces soldiers demanding the payment of bonuses as part of the Ouagadougou Agreement, and commended President Alassane Ouattara for swiftly and peacefully handling the crisis.

Just like Mrs Marjon Kamara, the ECOWAS Commission President expressed satisfaction at the peaceful resolution of the post-electoral crisis in The Gambia.

“The real work is now beginning in The Gambia, as we are expected to achieve three main objectives, namely initiating the security and defence sector reforms, reviving the national economy, and promoting national unity and the reconciliation of all Gambians,” stated Marcel de Souza.

The ECOWAS Principal also recalled the difficult reconciliation among the people of Guinea Bissau despite the numerous initiatives by ECOWAS for several years, the efforts by the Nigerian President, Muhamadu Buhari, to defeat the terrorists of the Boko Haram group, as well as the occupation of two thirds of the Malian territory by Islamists.

With respect to Mali, he announced the forthcoming international conference on the fight against terrorism in West Africa, aimed at discussing a regional strategy to restore peace in Northern Mali.

“If nothing is done in Mali, the security situation will deteriorate and destabilise the whole West African region.

“In that country, we don’t need a Peacekeeping Force, but rather a peace enforcement force because we first need to create peace before maintaining it,” disclosed Mr de Souza.

On Niger, he noted that the country was facing a difficult situation with Boko Haram in the South, Jihadists and pro-Azawad loyalists in the West, and many refugee camps in the Western and Southern part of the country.

Regarding the promotion of peace and democracy in the region, the Commission President outlined the initiatives of the regional organisation to support Liberia during the October 2017 presidential elections.

He equally welcomed the progress made by ECOWAS in the establishment of the Zone E and F Multinational Maritime Coordination Centres, and the West African Regional Maritime Security Centre.

During this meeting holding behind closed doors, the participants will consider a report and three memoranda, and listen to a series of presentation.

It should be recalled that the Mediation and Security Council is made up of Ministers of Defence, Security and Foreign Affairs of ECOWAS Member States.

Source: GNA

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