ECOWAS MEDIATION AND SECURITY COUNCIL REVIEWS REGIONAL SECURITY
The 33rd Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council (MSC) ended in Abuja on 12th December 2014, with important recommendations on the political and security situation in the region, particularly in Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau and Mali.
The meeting also discussed the operations of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB), the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the region and payment of compensations for ECOWAS personnel in the event of death or disability during peace support operations.
The MSC session, chaired by Honourable Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Chairperson of the Council of Ministers, was attended by Ministers in charge of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Defence, or their representatives from the 15 Member States.
After listening to various memoranda presented by the President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E. Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, the meeting commended the consensus reached stakeholders and the transitional arrangements put in place in Burkina Faso.
The participants encouraged the transition authorities to ensure the safety of all political leaders and adhere to the principle of inclusiveness and consensus building and also ensure the conduct of democratic elections by November 2015.
The Council also commended the African Union, the UN and ECOWAS for their joint actions aimed at establishing an International Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Burkina Faso (GISAT-BF), and urged the international community to support this initiative.
The Council recommended adherence to the constitutional convergence principles under the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
It also called for a review of the legal texts in force, particularly the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Peace keeping and Security, and the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the limit of presidential mandate to two terms at the most.
On the situation in Guinea Bissau, Council endorsed the extension of ECOMIB’s mandate by six months from 31 December 2014 and called for support from development partners in order to ease Member States' financial burden.
Council also ratified the decisions of the GCI-GB on in-depth reforms during the post-transition period, taking into account the ECOWAS-supported defence and security sector reform programme in that country.
With regard to Mali, the Council reiterated the call on armed groups in the North to dissociate from terrorist movements.
It commended the progress recorded with the Algiers negotiations and urged all concerned to work towards consensus on the draft agreement submitted to the parties.
On the 2015 elections in Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, the Council recommended that the Governments, Electoral Commissions and other stakeholders should work for credible, calm, free and transparent electoral process.
The ECOWAS Commission should also ensure the observation of the electoral processes and organize appropriate missions to support the countries concerned.
Turning to the Ebola epidemic, the MSC expressed solidarity over the loss of human lives in the affected countries and urged the Commission to speed up measures for implementing the ECOWAS Regional Integrated Operational Plan and other rapid response initiatives.
Council also discussed the standard operational procedures for compensation in the event of death or disability of personnel during peace-keeping operations.
The participants took note of the recent volcanic eruption on Fogo Island in Cape Verde, which resulted in many internally displaced persons and the destruction of the citizens’ means of livelihood.
After expressing their sympathy with the government and people of Cape Verde, Council called on ECOWAS Member States and the international community to support the country. Council also took note of the ECOWAS Commission’s contribution of US$300,000 to support the country.
In her remarks at the end of the session, Minister Tetteh commended her colleagues and the ECOWAS Commission for the quality of the reports and memoranda presented, coupled with the fruitful discussions.