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“Insecurity, A Distraction to Democracy” – ECOWAS

June 8, 2010

Special representative to the UN Secretary General for West Africa, Said Djinnit, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odein Ajumogobia, and President, ECOWAS Commission, James Gbeho, at the 27th meeting of the mediation and security council in Abuja on Monday.

‘Insecurity, a distraction to democracy’

By Bassey Udo

June 8, 2010 12:39AM

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said yesterday that the incessant insecurity in the West Africa sub-region is a serious distraction to the entrenchment of enduring democratic governance and values in member-states.

The Council, made up of ministers in the ECOWAS member-states in charge of security, has a role to play in the effort towards sustaining peace and security in the ECOWAS sub-region.

Odein Ajumogobia, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs minister, who made the observation at the opening of the two-day ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council meeting in Abuja, expressed regrets that the quest for lasting solutions to the problem has taken prime attention over effort to mobilise resources from the international community for the development of the sub-region.

“Urgent attention needs to be given to the issue of Security Sector Reforms (SSR) in member-states. In Guinea Conakry,Guinea Bissau, and Niger Republic, the Armed Forces there and other ECOWAS member-states must be transformed into professional armies that are subordinate to constitutional authority and civil democratic rule,” Mr. Ajumogobia said.

He reassured the Council of President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to the sustenance of democracy and good governance in the sub-region, adding that the administration is determined to continue Nigeria’s constructive collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and other sub-regional organisations to find lasting solutions to the political crises in member-states.

Apart from working as a team to ensure a free, transparent and credible election in Guinea Conakry in June 27, 2010, the minister enjoined ECOWAS member-states to also encourage the Council for Restoration of Democracy (CRD) in Niger Republic to fully implement its transition agenda for the election of a democratic leadership in the country.

The minister drew attention to the menace of small arms and light weapons (SALWs) as a serious threat to the peace and security of the sub-region, adding that though significant progress has been made in installing democracy in most member-states, there is still a long way to go.

No new conflict

James Gbeho, the President, ECOWAS Commission, noted the steady improvements in the security environment in the region since last year, particularly in the areas of advances in democratic restoration and consolidation, as well as national reconciliation and development.

Mr. Gbeho identified the absence of open conflict in the last decade, as well as the successful presidential elections in Togo, and the breakthrough in the inter-Togolese dialogue with the formation of an inclusive government in the country, as indices of the growing political stability in the region, though he noted the challenge of palpable uncertainty over elections in Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau.

Apart from the challenge of famine, Mr. Gbeho said the problem of drug trafficking and other transnational organised crimes, like money laundering and human trafficking, constitute mortal danger to politics and the region’s growth.

He called for efforts to be intensified between ECOWAS and the international community through the agency of the West African Office of the United Nations on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in the implementation of the West African Action Plan on Drugs, to help bring to an end the drugs scourge in the region.

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