Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman, has called on regional defence chiefs to redouble efforts at ensuring enduring peace and security in the region.
Speaking Wednesday on behalf of Ambassador Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, at the opening of an emergency meeting of the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) on Mali in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Suleiman said that while there were relative calm in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, security challenges remain in the region.
She cited the recent attack on a refugee camp in Western Cote d’Ivoire that resulted in loss of lives and expressed the Commission’s sympathies to the government and people of that country over the incident.
Suleiman also updated the gathering on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, where police units from Nigeria and Burkina Faso have been deployed following the departure of the Angola forces, preparatory to the implementation of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Guinea-Bissau authorities and the ECOWAS Commission.
In considering the report of the Technical Assessment Team (TAM) that visited Mali from 7-18 July, Suleiman urged the defence chiefs to come out with concrete recommendations that would “move the region forward in our collective quest for enduring peace and security”.
Speaking in the same vein, the Chairman of the CCDS and the Ivorian Chief of Defence Staff, General Soumaila Bakayoko, expressed satisfaction with the quality of work and professionalism of the Technical Assessment Team led by Brig-Gen. Mohammed Lai, Chief of Staff of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF).
He urged the Abidjan meeting to recommend practical steps on the modalities for the planned deployment of the ECOWAS Mission in Mali (MICEMA), to assist in the stabilization of institutions and restoration of the country’s national integrity in line with the decision of the 41st Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government.
Declaring the meeting open, the Ivorian Minister of Defence, Paul Koffi Koffi, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Alexis Ahonzo, said Africa and the whole world were watching and waiting for ECOWAS to do what was necessary for the restoration of peace in Mali.
Before the opening, the meeting, being attended by armed forces chiefs, chiefs of police and gendarmeries of selected Member States as well as the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission to Mali, Aboudou Cheaka Toure, observed a minute’s silence in memory of Ghana’s President, John Evans Attah Mills, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 68.
The Committee has held several meetings as part of the regional efforts for the resolution of the crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau following the coups d’état which interrupted constitutional rule in both countries, and the separatist rebellion in northern Mali.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 25July2012