Ivorian leader wants common defence policy within ECOWAS

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo has said that he would like to see the West African region forge a common defence policy within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Speaking at the opening of an international symposium on "Sub- Regional Integration Prospects in Defence and Security Matters" in Grand Bassam, 30 km south of Abidjan, Gbagbo said that such a policy would "build deterrence" for the region's countries.
"The idea of building a common defence is already a deterrence in itself as it would push conflict back to the borders," he said.
He urged his counterparts to put in place common defence mechanisms instead of military cooperation accords, which bound some ECOWAS member states with former colonial powers.
"We must put in place a collective deterrence within the ECOWAS space," Gbagbo stressed.
The deterrence mechanism would be made up of two components: one component will be at the ECOWAS border and the other within the borders, he explained.
For now, he ruled out the idea of creating an African army "even if one speaks of the African Union.
" "I do not believe that tomorrow morning we are going to wake up and build a single army in Africa.
West Africa should be built on peace, cooperation and understanding," he said.
He noted that the nature of conflicts has changed and that they have become "internal conflicts" which often take the form of military coups.
Touching on the reasons for the sudden emergence of the African military on the political scene, Gbagbo blamed bad governance, tribal excesses or the confiscation of power by a "state of naughty friends.
" "To avoid these coups de force, there is a need to establish transparency and democracy," he advised, urging his peers to be "more responsible" and to be more concerned about internal conflicts in the countries of the sub-region instead of "cursing them.
" The symposium, which ends Thursday, has brought together military chiefs of staff of 15 ECOWAS states.
Also attending are several military and civilian experts from the sub-region and overseas.

06 august 2002 21:29:00




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