Friday, November 09, 2007

ECOWAS Stand-By Force is Necessary

ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff are meeting in Monrovia for the third day running aimed at discussing issues relating to security in the sub-region. The summit, which is the 20th session, is being held at the request of Liberia following a previous security meeting held in neighboring Guinea.

The gathering of high profiled military chiefs comes at a time when the country is going through a period of metamorphosis with security issues looming high amongst Liberians as well as those in neighboring countries.

The Chiefs of Defense from all 15 ECOWAS nations are in attendance, a clear indication that West African leaders are placing high premium on sub-regional security and cooperation. Details coming out of the conference are scanty because discussions are held behind closed doors.

The summit has on its agenda discussions on security situation in the sub-region, military cooperation, the holding of joint military exercises and the configuration of an ECOWAS Stand-by Force.

For more than three decades, the West African sub-region had been one of the most insecure places on the continent, known for political instabilities, coup de tat and civil war which have undermined the process of democratization.

Today, the region is still fragile despite the gains made in Liberia neighboring Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire. However, the situation in Guinea is ominous even though there appears to be relative calm.

We therefore hold the view that the configuration of an ECOWAS standby force demonstrates the sub-region's ability to take charge of its own responsibilities other than waiting on foreign intervention to stabilize security that is sometimes bureaucratic.

The establishment of this force should be seen from the context of unity and cooperation. Financial contributions and payment of dues should be prioritized and honored by all member states. This is crucial to the success of the ECOWAS standby force. In the absence of finances there would be no realistic commitment.

We also agree and challenge West African leaders to consider conflict prevention - not entirely intervention - as an important initiative in helping to protect nations from sliding into destruction and defend democracy

We appreciate the support of ECOWAS in helping to stabilize our country. However, we would assume that had an ECOWAS standby force been in full action, perhaps it would have averted some of the destructions caused over decades.

allAfrica.com: West Africa: ECOWAS Stand-By Force is Necessary (Page 1 of 1)