By Lansana Fofanah. Monrovia, Liberia.
As the 37th Ordinary Session of Chiefs of Staff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ends successfully in Monrovia, Key operational resolutions and recommendations were adopted by the regional body during a three-day closed door meeting; which include the revised structure of the ECOWAS Standby Force, restructuring of the ECOWAS standby force, the Concept of Operation in Gambia which has been extended for one year to strengthen the Armed Forces of The Gambia, and the combined port exercise to commence in 2018.
Speaking on behalf of the ECOWAS President Marcel A. Desouza, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of ECOWAS, Mrs. Halima Ahmed said that regional bodies must work collectively to strengthen security as the expansion of terrorist threats, piracy at sea, kidnapping, the control of small arms and related elections violence are on the rise.
Madam Ahmed said that for so long, these instruments, resolutions and recommendations have been on their tables, and that has been limiting the scope and operation of ECOWAS forces, now that they have been adopted, it will enable ECOWAS to tackle insurgencies around the continent.
Madam Ahmed said that the Secretariat of the Commission will ensure that series of recommendations and directives that have been agreed upon will be fully implemented.
The Chairman of the ECOWAS CDS’ and also Liberia’s Chief of Defense Staff, Major General Daniel Dee Ziankahn said that the Armed Forces of Liberia would not have reached this level had it not been for the regional CDS’ efforts.
General Ziankahn said that his tenure as Chairman was daunting due to militant threats in Mali, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and The Gambia, but was able to succeed because of regional cooperation from ECOWAS CDS.
The Minister of Defense of the Republic of Liberia, Brownie J. Samukai Jr. said that ECOWAS forces have been instrumental in addressing regional security challenges which were handled in the past by other regional forces.
Minister Samukai commended the efforts of the United States, China, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Egypt, France and Rwanda for providing the necessary supports needed to strengthen the ECOWAS forces.
The Chairman of the Committee on Defense, Security, intelligence and Veteran Affairs of the Liberian Senate Steve Zargo said that the issue of terrorism which knows no border is of grave concern, and can only be countered through regional collaboration and coordination.
Senator Zargo called on the Regional Maritime Center for West Africa (CRESMAO) to act fast to protect the maritime and enhance economic benefit.
Meanwhile, the Liberian CDS, Major General Daniel Ziankahn was supposed to hand over the Chairmanship to the Chief of Defense Staff of Togo, Brigadier General Titikpina Atcha Mohamed as tradition demands, but has been asked to continue until a time is decided for him to do so.
In appreciation, Gen. Ziankahn said that he felt honored by the decision of the CDS’ for him to continue his Chairmanship until an appropriate time when he will hand over to the incoming Chairman.
The former Chief of Staff of Sierra Leone, Lt. Gen. Nelson Williams who is now the Deputy High Commissioner to the Federal Republic also served as ECOWAS CDS’ Chairman.