ECOWAS summit focuses on security issues
ECOWAS leaders gathered at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on 29 June in Abuja, Nigeria. Taking stock of 44 years of co-operation, they committed to consolidating the region’s integration. However, security challenges continue to undermine West Africa’s integration efforts. “We are all witness to the recurring incidents of inter-communal clashes, herder-farmer conflicts, banditry and terrorists attacks in all our countries”, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari declared while calling upon other heads of state “to act collectively in order to end the menace by adopting a common strategy both at the national and regional levels.” Mohammed Ibn Chambas, special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of UNOWAS, urged the West African leaders to enhance “quantitative and qualitative participation of the youth, women and persons living with disabilities in elective and decision-making positions. […] This will make the growing democracies more inclusive and meaningful,” he said. In the field of peace, security and stability, West African leaders firmly condemned terrorist attacks and inter-community violence, including clashes related to seasonal migration. They also reviewed the political situation in Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Togo. They welcomed the newly launched “Accra Initiative,” which promotes joint operational co-operation in the fight against terrorism between Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo. Niger’s President Issoufou Mahamadou was appointed as new chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and government for a one-year term, taking over from President Buhari. An ECOWAS extraordinary summit will be held on 14 September 2019 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to better co-ordinate the fight against terrorism. The next ordinary session is scheduled to take place on 21 December 2019 in Abuja.