ECOWAS Ministers Prepare Policy On Early Warning Mechanisms

The 32nd Ordinary Meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). being held in Accra, yesterday discussed the draft policy framework for the establishment of the National Early Warning Mechanisms (NEWM).

That, according to Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hannah Tetteh, was to enable them to make informed recommendations to the meeting of Heads of State and Government scheduled in Accra for the next two days.

The NEWM emanated from the desire of preventing structural and operational causes of conflicts in member countries through proactive actions of national institutions working closer with civil society.

Ms. Tetteh urged security services not to see the proposed National Early Warning and Response System as a threat to their traditional roles but rather to “take advantage of the information that the system would make available, and help provide solutions to threats that could lead to disastrous consequences.”

Noting that the maintenance of peace and security in the sub-region was a collective responsibility, Ms. Tetteh urged member countries to co-operate in all matters of security, particularly in intelligence and information gathering.

She said recent developments in the security situation in northern Mali, was threatening to derail the democratic gains in that country noting that similar criminal activities of the Boko Haram militant group in northern Nigeria had taken serious dimensions.

“The foregoing, especially the growing activities of terrorist and religious extremists in our region calls for a re-look at our community security architecture,” Ms Tetteh said.

“Indeed, we need to place equal, if not more emphasis, on efforts at identifying threats to regional and national peace and security and nipping them in the bud,” she added.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, expressed the Commission’s commitment toward supporting member states in addressing security challenges in the region, especially activities of terrorists and pirates.

He drew attention to the deteriorating security situation in northern Mali and Guinea Bissau saying, “Of particular importance will be the proposal to you, of a set of reform measures that need to be supported by ECOWAS and other members of the international community to enable Guinea Bissau to consolidate democracy.”

He reiterated the commitment of ECOWAS to the sovereignty and stability of Mali, reminding her of the call by the ECOWAS to take full responsibility of and expedite the preparation and conduct of the inclusive inter-Malian dialogue.

Mr. Ouedraogo, said it was incumbent to continue to support Guinea Bissau beyond the transition period, stressing that the Commission had developed broad proposals for reforms in areas of electoral, justice, defence and security, public and institutional reforms, economic sector, infrastructural development and social sector reforms. By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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