Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - West African defence chiefs have called for the deployment of additional police personnel to reinforce Liberia's national police ahead of the 10 Oct presidential and legislative polls, according to a communique issued after a meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
After the two-day meeting that ended on Wednesday, the regional defence chiefs urged member states that have pledged to contribute the police personnel - Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria - to put the personnel on standby for possible deployment.
At a one-day extraordinary meeting of the Joint Committees of the Chiefs of Defence Staff and Security Services in Monrovia, Liberia, on 13 September 2011, the defence chiefs of the four countries pledged to contribute at least 540 police and 280 Gendarmerie to this support force.
Meanwhile, the defence chiefs who met in Abuja have also called for the continuation of joint security patrol along the common borders of Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia and the retraining of former Ivorian rebels now being re-integrated into the country’s armed forces.
In addition, they called on the ECOWAS Commission to pursue efforts towards the lifting of the United Nations arms embargo on Cote d’Ivoire.
In a related development, the Chiefs of Defence Staff also recommended an expansion of membership of its sub-committee on maritime security from five to 10 members, as part of efforts to consolidate regional response to security threats, especially in the wake of escalating
piracy, drug and human trafficking and other transnational organized crimes in West Africa.
Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo will now join Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria in the committee that will make proposals to the CCDS within two months on issues relating to regional maritime security.
In other decisions arising from the meeting, the regional defence chiefs also proposed the extension of the ECOWAS Small Arms Programme (ECOSAP) based in Bamako, Mali for another five years.
The recommendation is expected to be presented to the next meeting of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council, which comprises Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence and their counterparts in charge of Security.
They endorsed more Command Posts and Field Training exercises for the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) to prepare them for immediate deployment.
In this regard, they agreed to attend an ESF Main Brigade Validation Command Post exercise in Accra, Ghana on 25 November 2011, code-named “JIGUI 3'', which is aimed at elevating the capacities of the Mission Planning and Management Cell (MPMC) for strategic planning
and the ESF for command and control on deployment.
“JIGUI 1”, a command post exercise was held in Bamako, Mali in 2008 while “JIGUI 2,” a Field Training exercise took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2009.
-0- PANA SEG 6Oct2011