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18.12.2003 General News

Peace, security and stability remain ECOWAS' challenges

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Accra, Dec. 18, GNA - Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday said peace, security and stability remained the main challenges of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He said: "For therein lie our hope for the development and progress of our States" and urged the Union to be more committed to the legal instruments and main structures adopted by Heads of State and Governments of member countries.

Nana Akufo-Addo said, these, would guide the initiatives and actions of ECOWAS in crisis prevention and conflict management. The minister was addressing the opening session of the preparatory meeting of ECOWAS Foreign Ministers to the Summit of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments meeting scheduled for Friday, December 19, 2003 in Accra.

Attending the meeting were eight foreign ministers from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo, while Ministers for Regional Integrations, represented the remaining member countries.

Nana Akufo-Addo noted: "unless we give real substance to these legal instruments and structures, peace, security and stability would continue to elude the sub-region".

He said the only option for peace in West Africa was for the Union to rely on the limited strength and resources of the West African sub-region.

Nana Akufo-Addo said: "Peace in our region must be more than hope, it is an imperative for development that demands the full, unwavering commitment of each one of us so that we can within our generation banish the endemic poverty that afflicts the lives of the majority of the people".

The Minister who was the Chairman of the meeting, also commended Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufuor the ECOWAS chairman for the tenacious yet sensitive approaches he made in bringing peace to the turbulent sub-region.

He said President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria also deserved praises for the delicate and mature way he handled the exist and exile of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, which contributed greatly to the peace process in that country.

Nana Akufo-Addo also paid tribute to Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS for his devotion, dynamism and daily commitment, "whose indefatigability keeps moving ECOWAS forward in the face of all odds".

The Foreign Ministers' meeting would adopt an agenda for the Summit, consider presentation on "The Challenge of poverty, development and integration in West Africa," " Memorandum on the security situation in the sub-region in respect with Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone.

Others issues to be considered included "consideration of the memorandum on the status of implementation of the protocol relating to the mechanism on conflict prevention, management, resolution, peacekeeping and security, setting up of ECOWAS peace funds, and memorandum on the establishment of a small arms unit within the Executive secretariat of ECOWAS."

The rest included, "Memorandum on the establishment of a mission planning and a monitoring cell, status of implementation of the moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of small arms, and report on the meeting of ECOWAS Ministers in charge of security.

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