December 2, 2008 - ECOWAS and Security Council Adopts Measures to Strengthen Security Apparatus

20 Apr 2009

December 2, 2008 - ECOWAS and Security Council Adopts Measures to Strengthen Security Apparatus

Ouagadougou - The ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council has recommended measures to strengthen the security apparatus in Guinea Bissau and protect the President and national institutions in the country.

The recommendations, which were made at the end of the Council's meeting on 2nd December 2008 in Ouagadougou, followed a briefing by the President of the ECOWAS
Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, on the high-powered fact-finding mission despatched to Guinea Bissau after the assasination attempt on the country's democratically elected President, Joao Bernado Vieira 'Nino' on 23rd November 2008.

The Council also received briefings from the Foreign Affairs Minister of Guinea Bissau, Madam Mariada da Conceicao Nobre Cabral, the Special Representative of the
United Nations Secretary General in Guinea Bissau (UNOGBIS), Ambassador Shola Omoregie, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for West Africa, Ambassador Said Djinnit and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Regional Cooperation of Burkina Faso, Madam Minata Samate Cessouma, who were part of the mission to Guinea Bissau.

While condemning the assasination attempt, the Council which comprises Ministers of Foreign Affairs of ECOWAS Member States, agreed to protect the fledling democracy in
Guinea Bissau by supporting the on-going democratization process through the direct involvement of ECOWAS.

In addition, the ministers expressed support for the investigation initiated by the authorities of Guinea Bissau and pledged to despatch a team of experts to assist in
the investigation with a view to determining those involved in the assasination attempt as well as the causes of the persistent instability in the country.

The ministers also undertook to relaunch the reform of the defence and security sector. In this regard, they said ECOWAS, the CPLP and the United Nations, in collaboration
with the European Union, should propose a costed implementation plan for the reform and thereafter organize a donors' roundtable to mobilize resources for the reform process.

In addition, they called on the UN Secretary General to help provide technical assistance for the training of the security forces of Guinea Bissau in order to strengthen the protection of key personalities and national institutions including the Presidency, the Prime Minister's office and the National Assembly.

They appealed to the Guinea Bissau authorities to draw lessons from the 16th November 2008 legislative elections by immediately putting in place the new National Assembly and the new government so as to reactivate normal political activities, among other objectives.

While committing themselves to assisting the Government of Guinea Bissau, the ministers also decided to relaunch an appeal to the international community to fulfill its
commitments to Guinea Bissau as recommended by the International Contact Group on Guinea Bissau (ICG-GB).

The consolidation of democracy in the region also featured highly in the ministers meeting. They expressed satisfaction over the successful elections organized this year in
Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, and likewise expressed confidence over the steps taken by Ghana to ensure transparency in its 7th December 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections. It will be the fifth consecutive time that Ghana will be holding democratic elections since 1992. (...)

Also strategic in the ministers meeting was the recommendation to the Heads of State for adoption of the Political Declaration on the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in West Africa and the Regional Plan of Action. Both documents are part of the conclusions of a high profile ministerial conference held in Praia late October 2008 and they are expected to provide the desired commitment to, and the strategies for, combating the drug phenomenon which now poses a security threat to the

The one-day meeting of the Council directed the ECOWAS Commission to expedite action for the development of a naval strategy to deal with threats to security in the Gulf
of Guinea. The directive was sequel to the ministers call at their June 2008 meeting following concerns expressed by some Member States on recent seaborne attacks. (...)

While considering issues relating to the West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCO), the meeting called on the ECOWAS Commission to ensure the inclusion of all relevant national security agencies in their task of fighting cross-border crimes and endorsed the initiative for consultations with the Ministers of Justice and Security in
this regard.

Also, the Council urged Member States to ratify the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials without further delay to
enable it come into force in the first quarter of 2009. (...)

At the opening, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, gave an overview of the security situation in the region, notably in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and the northern parts of Mali and Niger where he said appreciable progress has been made towards ensuring stability.

While disclosing that Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Guinea Bissau have each received 500,000 U.S. dollars from ECOWAS in support of the electoral process in those
countries, Dr. Chambas expressed the hope that the relevant authorities would strive to meet the aspirations of the people through the promotion of transparency, accountability and the rule of law. (...)