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The ECOWAS Commission has submitted its self-assessment Report on the readiness of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) to the African Union (AU) Verification Team.

The self-assessment Report handed over to African Peer Review (APR) Panel of Eminent Persons for verification, contains compilations, findings and submissions of ECOWAS experts and officials regarding the state of readiness of the ESF for deployment.

Receiving the APR delegation and independent panel of experts in Abuja, Nigeria on the 4th of October 2017, the ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel de Souza gave a rundown of the modus operandi of the ESF as well as the security situation in the West African region.

His briefing also spanned the composition of the Force, troops contributing countries and decision making processes while detailing the tortuous road of returning peace to The Gambia and citing the ECOWAS recent intervention on the crisis in that country as a good example of the ECOWAS collaborative exertion and positive application of its mediation, peace building and conflict resolution prowess.

President de Souiza’s briefing also touched on funding, high cost of deployment and maintenance of troops. Specific mentions were also made of the efforts to enhance the Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) as well as Peace Support Operations (PSO) which reflects the multidimensional nature of the ESF.

On hand to support De Souza was the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Edward Singhatey who gave further insights and a detailed breakdown of operational efforts regarding the ECOWAS Standby Force Treaty which was described as a Milestone, among others.

In his response, the leader of delegation of the AU’s Verification, Confirmation and Validation Mission to ECOWAS, professor Ibrahim Gambari enthused that the ESF verification exercise would be the “best” among the series so far conducted in the continent’s other Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

Gambari, a former United Nations Undersecretary-General and erstwhile Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria stated that the team does not work “like an examination board but endeavours to see how far you have gone in the set tasks while identifying the gaps and to see how to close them”.

He stated that he was impressed by the openness of the ECOWAS Commission assuring that the AU team would like to “partner with you as we give a detailed look at the report so that in the end the AU can really confirm the state of readiness of the ESF and can have a verified report that has real meaning”.

The panel established by the AU to conduct the independent verification of the in-house assessment of the ESF, is made up of experts from relevant components as well as the AU’s Department of Peace and Security with representatives from each of the continental RECs as well as the United Nations office at the AU headquarters, in Addis Ababa.

Also supporting President de Souza at the event were the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security Mrs Halima Ahmed as well as the Director, Peace Keeping and Regional Security Dr. Cyriaque Agnekethom.

The verification exercises are part of the larger assessment functions of the AU meant to measure the preparedness of all Standby Forces on the continent in terms of personnel, equipment and operational capabilities with regards to response to emergent security threats.

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