ECOWAS Defence Chiefs Support War on Ebola

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Admiral Quashie of Ghana taking over Chairmanship of ECOWAS CCDS from Cote d'Ivoire's Gen. Bakayoko

The ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff at their just-concluded 34th ordinary pledged to support the military of member countries in fight against Ebola outbreak and insecurity in the region

By Maureen Chigbo  |  Sep. 29, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff, CCDS, end their three-day meeting in Ghana, Accra, September 12, with Mali being chosen as the venue for the 35th Ordinary Session. In Mali, the CCDS will have the opportunity to review the implementations of the recommendations they made at their 34th Ordinary Session which held under the theme “Strengthening ECOWAS Military Cooperation for Peace, Stability and Development”. The meeting, which reviewed the general security situation in the region, came up with an eight-point recommendations touching on areas such as health, political and security of member states.

For instance, the CCDS rose from the meeting with a pledge to support the military of member states for the battle against the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in the region. In one of the eight recommendations, the defence chiefs commended the efforts being made by the region’s Heads of State and Government, the ECOWAS Commission and other stakeholders to combat the disease and pledged the support of the defence forces for various initiatives in member states.

Commissioner Suleiman presenting Plaque for distinguished service to Gen. Lai, outgoing Chief of ECOWAS Stand-by force
Commissioner Suleiman presenting Plaque for distinguished service to Gen. Lai, outgoing Chief of ECOWAS Stand-by force

Elaborating on this at a media interaction during the meeting’s closing ceremony, Vice Admiral Mathew Quashie of Ghana, the new CCDS chairman, explained that “the military is ever ready and always the first to respond to any emergency” such as the Ebola outbreak, which has been seen as a threat to regional security.

Also, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, the ECOWAS commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, echoed the chairman’s optimistic sentiment, adding that the military in the region has demonstrated its capacity to protect ECOWAS citizens from any security threats by lending its professional support whether in the political or social sector. The Ebola disease has claimed more than 2,000 lives from the more than 4,000 cases reported in the region.

On the security situation in North Eastern Nigeria, the defence chiefs called for enhanced intelligence sharing among member states and the stepping up of training in counter-insurgency.

Gen. Bakayoko inspecting a Guard of Honour before the commencement of the 34th ECOWAS CCDS Ordinary Session
Gen. Bakayoko inspecting a Guard of Honour before the commencement of the 34th ECOWAS CCDS Ordinary Session

“Boko Haram has created mayhem in Nigeria and needs to be stopped,” adding that “Africa cannot afford an unstable Nigeria”, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, Ghana’s deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, who was the guest of honour at the closing ceremony, said.

Lending its support to the outcome of the meeting of Naval Chiefs of Defence Staff held on the margins of the CCDS session, the CCDS urged the ECOWAS Commission and the Naval chiefs of Maritime Pilot Zone E, grouping Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, to take all necessary measures to ensure the activation of the Zone E Maritime Multinational Coordinating Centre, MMCC, by January 2015.  This is to serve as an impetus for the activation of the other Zones towards effectively securing the seas within the ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, zones, in line with the decisions of their Joint Summit held June last year, to curb piracy and other maritime crimes.

Cross-section of ECOWAS Defence Chiefs at the 34th ECOWAS CCDS Session
Cross-section of ECOWAS Defence Chiefs at the 34th ECOWAS CCDS Session

The CCDS meeting also recommended the acceleration of the ECOWAS-facilitated Defence and Security Sector Reform programme in Guinea Bissau and called for partner support for the country. It also encouraged the Bissau Government to adopt the necessary political will towards resolving all outstanding issues to ensure sustainable peace and development in the country.

The defence chiefs equally enjoined development partners to assist ECOWAS in the reimbursement to Troop and Police Contributing Countries, T/PCCs, for the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, AFISMA, replaced by the UN Mission last year, and ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau, ECOMIB.

At the opening of the 9-11 September meeting, the CCDS paid tribute to Gen. Soumaila Bakayoko of Cote d’Ivoire, its immediate past chairman, for his critical role in guiding ECOWAS interventions towards resolving the security crises faced by the region in the past two years.

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