ECOWAS must be decisive in dealing with terrorism in Sahel region – Akufo-Addo – Ghana Business News

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President Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged ECOWAS heads of state to reach an agreement and establish a clear policy direction to combat terrorism in the Sahel region.

He emphasized that if ECOWAS were to make any meaningful impact in resolving regional terrorism challenges, a strategy must be agreed upon immediately.

President Akufo-Addo made the remarks when the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, called on him at the Jubilee House in Accra on Monday.

Dr. Touray and his entourage were in Accra to seek President Akufo-Addo’s leadership and advice on combating terrorism in the region.

He was also there to get the President’s backing for efforts to discourage Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso from quitting the Commission.

President Nana Addo was unequivocal that Ghana would be unable to lead the charge on the issues unless the regional bloc worked together.

“This cannot be a Ghanaian initiative. It must be an ECOWAS-wide initiative and I feel that for us to have real clarity going forward, we need an agreement amongst the heads of state as to our strategy going forward.

“It is on that basis that we can flesh out the other matters that you have talked about.

“The whole scenario that is emerging requires that we have a consensus amongst us as to how we treat the alliance of Sahel states. For me, that is the noble point.

“The epicenter of terrorism in our region is there…I think it is important that the Heads of State meet to clarify exactly what are the parameters in which we should go in trying to define the policy,” he stated.

Dr. Touray told President Akufo-Addo that his assistance would be required to bring Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali back into the regional bloc. 

“Your leadership will also be required in bringing the three countries that have indicated their intention to leave ECOWAS. We believe ECOWAS needs to continue to engage them because their exit from ECOWAS threatens us in more than one way.”

Dr Touray said the exit of the three countries threatened the security of the region, because Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali were the epicenter of the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.

He argued that the departure of the trio from the bloc presented a threat to regional administration, emphasizing that it could lead to unconstitutional actions with public support, and urged President Akufo-Addo to “bring them back to ECOWAS.”

Dr also apprised the President on the results of recent engagements and discussions on regional counter-terrorism measures, which the commission was certain would yield the intended results.

“On your instructions and on the instruction of your colleagues, we have convened meetings of Chief of Defence Staffs, Ministers of Defence and Security to look at ways and means of deactivating ECOWAS’s standby force and review ECOWAS plans of action which ends this year but not much has happened since when it was adopted,” he said

Some of the proposals obtained as part of their engagements include the creation of a regional standby force of at least 5000 men and women, with a support budget of around $2.4 billion.

Another plan is to form a Brigade of 1500 men and women, with a budget about $1 billion.

Dr. Touray mentioned that the Commission was looking for assistance with how to raise funds, either internally or through external sources, to meet its peacekeeping financial requirements.

“We believe your mission would include leading us on ways to raise the 25 per cent that we need to raise, whether we decide to go for the 5000 or 1500 and whether we would have to raise the resources internally or with partner support,” he said.

Source: GNA

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