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Pooling efforts for a better response to terrorism in the ECOWAS and ECCAS regions

Lomé, 28 July 2018.The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) must fashion out a global and pragmatic approach in the fight against terrorism, by paying special attention to human security, to problems linked to all kinds of trafficking, the management and exploitation of natural resources and transhumance.

This was the appeal made by Régis Immongault Tatangani, Gabon’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, Francophonie and Regional Integration, and Chair of the ECCAS Council of Ministers, on Saturday, 28 July 2018, in Lomé, Togo, at the opening of the Ministerial Meeting preceding the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of both regional economic communities.

Beyond this approach, he also indicated that West and Central Africa must work out a common surveillance policy to enhance exchange of strategic intelligence, particularly in the area of early warning.

According to Mr Tatangani, the Joint Summit of ECOWAS and ECCAS Heads of State, to be held on 30 July 2018, raises hope for the relevance of the agenda on peace, security, stability, the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

Prof. Robert Dussey, president of Council of Ministers – ECOWAS
Regis Immongault Tatangani, president of Council of Ministers – CEEAC

M. Tatangani concluded: “this Summit is taking place as a result of the unrelenting activities of negative forces operating in our countries, laying waste and causing terror to our people…. Unfortunately, these barbaric acts, in addition to their characteristic lack of humanity, are spreading like wild fire beyond our respective borders and regions”.

For his part, Prof. Robert Dussey, Togolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration and Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, declared that the conduct of the joint Summit was an example of successful inter-African cooperation.

“ECCAS and ECOWAS have understood that we must collectively take on the responsibility for the security of our common area, and the Summit of Heads of State and Government of 30 July 2018, which will be concluded with a Joint Declaration, vividly demonstrates this.”

He stated that the war against terrorism, for security and regional and inter-regional stability, is a just war. He pointed out that there can be no progress or human development without peace and security.

In the words of the Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, “our two regions must win the war on ignorance, radicalisation, fundamentalism and extremism. We must strip terrorism of its breeding grounds through prevention which involves education for enlightenment.

In his view, it is through enlightening education that West and Central Africa can overcome indoctrination and radicalism, as well as extremism which all fuel terrorism.

This joint ministerial session, attended by Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Defence or National Security, is expected to consider and adopt the draft Joint Lomé Declaration by ECOWAS and ECCAS Member States on peace, security stability and the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

The meeting, also attended by the ECOWAS Commission President, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, and ECCAS Secretary-General, Ahmad Allam-Mi, will adopt the draft Agenda and the Communiqué of the Joint Summit of the leaders of West and Central Africa.

It will also examine the report of the meeting of experts from both regions on the subject matter, held on 10 and II July 2018, again in the Togolese capital. The meeting had concluded with a series of recommendations of which effective implementation should enhance the fight against terrorism and violent extremism in West and Central Africa.

L-r, Ahmad Allam-Mi and Jean-Claude Kassi Brou
R-L, Madam Finda Koroma and Vafolay Tulay, Vice-president and commissioner, Ecowas Commission

Indeed, it is no longer news that illegal cross-border activities, especially terrorism, money laundering, violent extremism as well as trafficking in arms, humans and drugs, constitute common threats to West and Central Africa.

These threats hinder peace, security as well as stability and jeopardise the development efforts of ECOWAS and ECCAS Member States.

The joint sessions of ministers and experts, like the Summit of Heads of State and Government of both economic regions, are the result of efforts jointly embarked upon since 2015 by the two regions.

These efforts are expected to define and implement a joint approach to peace, security and the fight against terrorism and violent extremism in West and Central Africa.

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