US, Ghana to partner in fight against violent extremism, conflicts

The United States (US) government is to partner with Ghana to avert violent extremism and other forms of conflicts and vulnerabilities that threaten the country’s stability.

 The country and four other Coastal West African states; Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Benin are beneficiaries of a 10-year US Strategy aimed at preventing conflict and promoting stability in some countries worldwide.

 Under the $100 million global initiative, the US would collaborate with various governments and civil society on an integrated regional approach to prevent conflict, promote resilience and stability, and advance economic growth.

 The US Assistant Secretary of State Bureau of Conflict and Stabilisation Operations,Anne A. Witkowsky, interacting with some selected journalists at the US embassy in Accra on Friday, said the strategy, announced by the US presidency last month, would not involve the deployment of the US military to the region.

“This initiative is not about military presence. This initiative is about partnering with these five countries and other countries to examine together what we can do to prevent conflict, and in this case, with particular perspective on the spread of violent extremism and other spread of sources of instability in these countries, and there are different ways of doing this,” she clarified.

 Her visit to Ghana, the first since she assumed the position, was to enable her to dialogue with stakeholders on the plan.

The partnership comes at a time Ghana is battling threats of terrorism and had initiated an anti-terrorism campaign ‘See something, Say Something’ to draw citizenship support to foil this danger that is hampering peace in the region.

According to MsWitkowsky, it was notable that the government had stepped up preventive action to address this threat in the near term, but a long-term preventive approach that takes a “whole society approach”, such as the partnership, was key in addressing such threats.

The partnership, she said, would examine the broad drivers of instability in a long term, in not only security but other underlying drivers of conflicts including economics, governance, human rights, youth unemployment, and corruption as they all play in promoting stability.

 Touching on why coastal countries were chosen despite instability in other land-locked countries like Burkina and Mali, she explained, that they were chosen based on common risks they face including the threat and spread of violent extremism with the expectation that it would impact the entire region.

 MsWitkowsky said Ghana had shown leadership in the advancement of peacebuilding and conflict prevention initiatives across the coastal region through its contribution to national and regional resources for early warning, early response, and conflict prevention mechanisms.

 “They are critical to fostering security and prosperity, and we are eager to help bolster and grow these initiatives. The challenges and threats that the Strategy will work to address know no borders.  However, those challenges and threats can be disrupted and eliminated through coordination, teamwork, and innovation,” she said.

 BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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