The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has raised an alarm that the growing activities of terrorists in the sub-region is a threat to West Africa integration and stability.
Speaking at the opening of the 47th ordinary session of the Mediation and Security Council of ECOWAS meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of foreign affairs of Ghana and Chairperson of the Council, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey, said the current increasing activities of terrorists in the sub-region should be of concern to everyone.
The meeting is one of the various meetings that proceeds the meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.
Botchwey said: “Speaking on the backdrop of continual threat to our region, which could undermine integration agenda and regional stability. Attacks by terrorist and violent extremist groups are increasing across the region, leaving no member state spared as a potential targets.
“In addition to this already difficult situation, is the military takeover in Guinea, after the one in Mali, weakening our community.”
She told the gathering: ” Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the council, the deteriorating security environment in the region is of grave concern from the Sahel region through the Lake Chad basin and beyond.
“Attacks from terrorists and violent extremists have moved with banditry kidnapping, farmer/herder dynamics and transnational organised crime leaving a trail of death and destruction.
“Indeed, the terrorist groups are currently testing border defenses of coastal nations, intending to extend their reach to the member states along the Gulf of Guinea.”
Botchwey said he Commission is worried over gradual military incursion in governance in West Africa, lamenting that this remains a challenge for the sub-region.
She said: “The military coups in the Republic of Mali and Guinea, remain a challenge to us. The Authority has held several extraordinary summits to address this matter. We will examine progress in these two countries.”
She also raised concern over the threat posed by the new Omicron Covid variant, decrying that: “The COVID 19 pandemic has also added a new layer of complexity with growing cases of the new Omicron variant and a possible new wave threatening social cohesion, the welfare of citizens and economic recovery.”
She however noted that it was not a sad story as some successes recorded in the region.
She said: “Amidst all these uncertainties, our community has continued to consolidate democracy in the region with their presidential and legislative elections in Cape Verde and the Gambia taking place. All those polls peacefully conducted.
“I wish to congratulate the people of the Cape Verde and Gambia for these elections. These elections come after those of Niger and Benin earlier this year. “
On the ongoing summit, she assured that: “This session will also among other things, consider the draft revised Supplementary Protocol on democracy and good governance following the directive from our heads of state or the extra ordinary Summit held on the 16th of September 2021. in Accra, to review the protocol.”
She added that: “The objective is to strengthen democratic governance in our region. We will also be receiving updates on the regional humanitarian situation and the status of the operationalization of the National Early Warning mechanism.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, members of the council, I’m confident that our accomplishments as a community and the challenges threatening our progress will inspire us to engage in lively deliberations and conclusions that will contribute greatly to pushing our communities in integration agenda to new heights. “
She also commended the commission for “the efforts made to enhance security architecture as well as the democracy and good governance structures of the ECOWAS member states.”
Also speaking, Ambassador Musa Nuhu, Nigerian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, decried that the present threat of military interregnum in the sub-region could be linked to tenure elongation.
He revealed that one of the expectations from the meeting is solidifying some new provisions which have been inteoduced to ensure tenure limits.
He said: “Some new provisions have been introduced. We expect debate from the member countries because it has been inserted in the draft the issue of two term limits for heads of states as recommended by the experts, validated by the ministers and the ambassadors and then yesterday at the parliament. If the ministers decide to support what was presented to them, then it will be escalated to the level of the heads of states.”