From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has called for the urgent implementation of the 2020-2024 Priority Action Plan to eradicate terrorism in the West African sub-region.
In a communique issued at the end of the 62nd Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Abuja, the regional leaders expressed grave concern about the worsening regional security situation as a result of the recurrence and expansion of terrorist attacks and their humanitarian consequences.
In the communique signed by the President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, ECOWAS particularly expressed deep concern over the security situation in Burkina Faso and its possible consequences on the coastal countries, and called for urgent measures to support Burkina Faso in its efforts to counter terrorist attacks in the country.
“The Authority underscores the urgent need to accelerate the implementation of the ECOWAS 2020-2024 Priority Action Plan to eradicate terrorism, through improved resource mobilisation and strengthening of the region’s operational and logistical capacities to effectively combat the scourge.
“The Heads of State and Government reiterate their commitment to the effective implementation of the ECOWAS 2020-2024 Priority Action Plan, as adopted at their 56th Ordinary Session held in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria on 21 December 2019. To this end, they undertake to urgently pay their contributions of one (1) billion US dollars to the regional counter-terrorism fund established for this purpose.
“The Authority further emphasises the urgent need for more effective coordination and structured harmonisation of the different counter-terrorism initiatives in the region, under the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission, to create more synergies and pool available resources,” the communique read.
ECOWAS further directed the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff to urgently study and propose the options, modalities and financial and technical means for the urgent operationalisation of the ECOWAS Standby Force, including a special kinetic operation to combat terrorism.
The regional leaders also instructed the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, to take appropriate measures to ensure effective political and operational coordination among the different regional counterterrorism initiatives to strengthen the fight against terrorism.
The Authority further instructed the President of the Commission to engage civil society and the private sector for the mobilisation of additional resources through awareness programmes and advocacy to combat terrorism in the ECOWAS region.
The ECOWAS leaders also mandated the President of the Commission to take the necessary measures to support the two designated ECOWAS Champions, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of the Republic of Niger, in their efforts to mobilise resources, including own resources, for the implementation of the Action Plan.
On the issue of unconstitutional change of government in the sub-region, ECOWAS reaffirmed its strong condemnation and underscored the urgent need for collective action to entrench democracy and promote stability in the region.
“The Authority reaffirms its determination to scrupulously enforce the principle of ‘Zero tolerance for power obtained or maintained by unconstitutional means’ and to apply without exception, the severest of sanctions for non-compliance.
“To this end, in accordance with the instructions issued at its 61st Ordinary Session held in Accra, Republic of Ghana on 3 July 2022, the Authority directs the President of the Commission to continue discussions with Member States and if need be, with other stakeholders, with a view to reaching consensus on outstanding issues, to finalise the revision of the 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. The Authority further directs the President of the Commission to submit the draft revised Supplementary Protocol at its next session.
“The Authority also decides to set up a regional force whose mandate will include the restoration of constitutional order where they are threatened in the sub-region,” the communique also read.
Regarding the issue of peace and security, the Authority reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of peace, security and stability in the region as prerequisites for the economic development and integration of the region.
The Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the inextricable link between the consolidation of peace and security and the harmonious economic development of the region.
They reiterated their commitment to the promotion and defence of the principles of democracy, good governance, peace and security as contained in the relevant ECOWAS texts.
On the humanitarian situation in the region, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government expressed deep concern at the worsening humanitarian situation in the region due to terrorism, climate change, deficits in agricultural production and the war in Ukraine.
“The Authority instructs the Commission to strengthen the response to address the humanitarian crisis, particularly among vulnerable populations and their host communities.
“The Authority further instructs the Commission to work with partners to address the existing challenges and limitations to humanitarian access in conflict situations and enhance the climate resilience agenda to address the severe flooding in the region due to climate change,” the communique further read.