Ghana: 'Fight against Boko Haram is far from over' - ECOWAS chairman

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - The 47th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and government opened in Accra on Tuesday with a caution that the fight against the Nigeria-based Boko Haram terrorist group is far from over despite the surge against it.

"The fight is, however, far from over as the release of the Chibok girls has not been secured,” Ghana's president and chairman of ECOWAS John Dramani Mahama said in speech at the opening of the Summit which is being attended by 11 heads of state.

“Boko Haram has shown that they still have the capacity to counter attack,” he added.

Hundreds of women and children have been freed in a major push by the Nigerian armed forces but there has been no trace of scores of girls the terrorist group abducted from their school in Chibok.

President Mahama noted that last year, Nigeria and Cameroon were caught in the grips of terrible attacks and atrocities by the terrorist group, which "freely attacked with impunity and abducted hundreds of women and children".

"The atrocities of this group have remained unsurpassed by any terrorist group in the world. Slaughters, beheading, torture, rape, abduction, bombings, looting and destruction of property have been the hallmark of this terrorist group,” he noted.

"Now, there have been measures to control the activities of the group," President Mahama said, adding that he was looking forward to a summit of West and Central African states to deal with the menace.

He expressed concern about youth unemployment in the sub-region, and indeed in Africa, and called for wider discussions to address the challenge, especially in the face of a booming youth population.

"It is my hope that the ECOWAS Commission will take up this issue as an issue for discussion because the challenge for job creation for young people is going to be a challenge that faces every single country in our sub region.

“It is a situation that faces even the developed countries and especially for Africa considering that we have the fastest growing youth,” he said.

On Ebola, President Mahama recalled the deaths and economic problems caused by the virus last year and expressed relief that the situation was getting under control with Liberia being declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 9 May, 2015, and with almost no reported cases in Sierra Leone and fewer and fewer cases in Guinea.

"...we are looking forward to zero Ebola cases in the sub-region in the next couple of months if not earlier,” he said.

President Mahama recalled that while the initial response to the crisis was slow, “everything was thrown into the fight once the international response got underway".

He said attention must now turn to the challenges of the post-Ebola era. “We call on our multilateral and bilateral partners to once again step up to the plate and assist Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to rebuild their economic and social infrastructure. We call also for debt relief for those countries.”

On elections in the sub-region, President Mahama said successful elections in Togo and Nigeria had sent a strong message to the world that "Africa’s protocol on rule of law and good governance was becoming effective and entrenched".

He also commended President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria for showing maturity in the Nigerian elections that saw his defeat. “Let me take this opportunity to highly commend our brother President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of his personal show of matured statesmanship in the event that followed the Presidential elections.”

He also commended Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe for winning the Togo election and urged all stakeholders to work towards electoral reforms.

The summit will discuss the 40th anniversary of ECOWAS which falls on 28 May as well as the 2015 interim report of the ECOWAS Commission, report of the 74th ordinary session of ECOWAS council of ministers and report of the 34th meeting of the mediation and Security Council.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 19May2015

19 مايو 2015 15:40:38

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