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EXECUTIVE SECRETARY'S REPORT

REPORT 2000

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CHAPTER II - IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMMUNITY WORK PROGRAMME

310. The Economic Community of West African States is one of the sub- regional organisations most actively involved in conflict prevention and management. Since 1990 when the Standing Mediation Committee and the Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) were set up in Liberia, ECOWAS has been working relentlessly to restore peace to West Africa. Last year, the most notable development in the sub-region was the advent on the political scene of democratically elected regimes, particularly in Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Nigeria. Although there has been a democratic transition in Senegal, the situation in 2000 is not very cheering. Besides Sierra Leone, where the peace process remains frail and painstaking, the tense atmosphere prevailing between Guinea and Liberia has deteriorated to a point where armed incursions have been made into Liberia and Guinea.

311. The violence which characterised the presidential election in Cote d'Ivoire, following the military junta's bid to remain in power, raised fears for the peace and security of the country and the sub-region. However, despite these worrying developments in the three countries, the actions taken by ECOWAS have been tangible and we can only hope that they will yield dividends in the very near future. COTE D'IVOIRE

312. The robust measures which the Community had been taking since December 1999 to restore peace and consolidate democracy in Cote d'Ivoire after the military takeover had not met with support from the military authorities there. After the very first meeting of the Mediation and Security Council in December 1999, the ECOWAS Chairman sent several missions to the country, to propose a schedule for the restoration of democratic institutions . If this plan had been accepted, the bloody clashes which left many dead and hundreds wounded would have been avoided. The Mediation and Security Council met at Heads of State level and made recommendations which were approved by the Authority. The junta still did not accept these recommendations and the matter was therefore referred to the OAU at its last summit in Lome.

313. In this uneasy atmosphere, with the issue of the eligibility of candidates to the presidential elections hanging heavy on the air, the Heads of State of the OAU Committee of Ten, comprising Algeria, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Togo, undertook a visit to Cote d'Ivoire on 25 September 2000. The purpose of this visit was to make proposals to the Ivorian authorities with regard to the election time-table, and a number of other mechanisms aimed at building up trust between fellow Ivorians. The proposals included the creation of an Interim Council to be presided over by President Robert Guei, in conjunction with the leaders of the main political parties, and also provided for a more extended transition period and the postponement of the presidential elections, and the holding of legislative elections.

314. The move made by the Committee of Ten was highly commended by the Ministerial meeting of the Mediation and Security Council which took place in Abuja on 4 October 2000.

315. Despite the efforts of the Committee of Ten, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court decided to disqualify 10 candidates, among them the candidates of the PDCI-RDA and the RDR.

316. It was against this background that the presidential elections were organised on 20 October 2000 with five candidates, including General Robert Guei, in the running. Midway into vote counting, General Guei dissolved the national electoral commission and proclaimed himself President. From Bamako, ECOWAS issued a press release condemning this attempt at vote rigging, and demanding that the will of the people be respected. Following this blatant show of electoral fraud, Ivorians, especially those in Abidjan, defied the security forces and the presidential guard, took to the streets and succeeded in removing General Guei from power. In the wake of this popular uprising, the national electoral commission declared that Laurent Gbagbo , the FPI candidate, had won the presidential elections with 59.36% of the votes against 32.7% for General Guei. Mr. Alassane Ouattara's party, the RDR, contested the results of the election, stating that the election process had been flawed from the start. Clashes then erupted which unfortunately assumed ethnic and religious overtones. Dozens were killed while hundreds more were wounded.

317. Amidst the continuing tension, the ECOWAS Chairman despatched a delegation to Abidjan on 24 October 2000 comprising the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the Mediation and Security Council, and the ECOWAS Executive Secretary. They held separate meetings with His Excellency Laurent Gbagbo, who had just been sworn in as President, and with Messrs. Alassane Ouattara, the RDR Chairman, and Laurent Dona Fologo, Chairman of the PDCI-RDA. It was obvious from these three meetings that all wished : to stop the violence to organise legislative elections in accordance with the agreed election schedule.

318. These major preoccupations were foremost on the minds of Messrs. Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara when they met on 25 October 2000 to seek ways of ending the spiral of violence. Indeed, the gravity of the crisis was brought home even more forcefully on 26 October with the discovery of a mass grave.

319. Now that President Gbagbo has been sworn in and all the other political parties appear to have accepted the legislative election, the topmost priority for Cote d'Ivoire is to heal wounds and to mend fences. President Gbagbo and the other leaders have stated as much in their utterances. Our Community must give every support to these reconciliation efforts and take every measure to safeguard the unity of the Ivorian people.

B. GUINEA/LIBERIA/SIERRA LEONE

320. Relations between Guinea and Liberia have not really improved despite the efforts of ECOWAS and the Mano River Union. In the last few years, the two countries have, on several occasions, accused one another of harbouring large numbers of dissidents in their respective territories and supporting their subversive activities.

321. Repeated attacks by armed rebels from Sierra Leone on the Guinean villages of Massadou, Pamalap and Macenta, and on Lofa County in northern Liberia, particularly the towns of Zorzora and Voinjama, have resulted in severe loss of life and destruction of property. The victims of this violence include an official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. During one such attack, another official from the same organisation was kidnapped in Macenta in Guinea but was later released. The violence has spawned thousands of displaced persons.

322. The Guinean authorities have condemned the incursions by armed rebels from Sierra Leone into Guinean territory. Several of the attacks resulting in loss of life are suspected to be the work of armed groups from the rebel Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the militia, and other groups which have infiltrated the refugee population.

323. Humanitarian organisations have relocated their bases to less exposed areas, for the protection of their field officers. This measure is likely to cause a deterioration in humanitarian services in the conflict zones, which is regrettable in view of the fact that Guinea alone shelters hundreds of thousands of refugees, indeed, the greatest number in the entire sub-region.

324. It is against this backdrop that the Ministers of Defence and Security of the member countries of the Mano River Union, meeting in Bamako on 16 September 2000, at the initiative of the current Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority, agreed on the following : to desist from issuing any media reports which are likely to aggravate the situation; to refrain from any act of harassment, questioning or expulsion against groups of foreign nationals or any other acts of reprisal against these peoples; to ensure safety of life and property and guarantee free movement; to desist from launching border attacks from bases located inside Mano River Union countries; to desist from any act of provocation at common borders; to normalise relations between the three countries; to treat refugees in conformity with the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

325. The Ministerial meeting of the Mano River Union, held on 16 September 2000, further recommended the following precautionary measures: removal of refugee camps from border areas; the deployment of joint border security patrols; an exchange of lists of subversives to facilitate their immediate expulsion, and speedy signature of the tripartite agreement on the reinsertion of displaced persons and repatriation of refugees to their countries of origin.

326. The 4th Ministerial meeting of the ECOWAS Security and Mediation Council, having concluded discussions on the situation between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and anxious to find a solution to the increasingly disquieting security conditions between the three sister countries, endorsed the recommendations enumerated above, and urged that a meeting of the Joint Security Committee of the Mano River Union should be convened in Sierra Leone without delay. The Mediation and Security Council also advised that joint committee to take necessary measures to ensure, on the one hand, that the Technical Committee finalises and submits its report on the alleged attacks launched against Liberia from Guinean territory, and on the other, to investigate the allegations of attacks launched against Guinea from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

327. The 4th Ministerial meeting of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council further recommended to the Authority of Heads of State and Government to speedily deploy a military observer mission along the land and sea borders of Guinea and Liberia. The current ECOWAS Chairman, the President of the Republic of Guinea, and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria decided, on 8 October 2000, to expedite an advance team to the spot, to determine the modalities for the deployment of military observers. The Heads of State also set up an ECOWAS technical committee to carry out all the necessary investigations into the deepening of the crisis along the Guinea/Liberia and Guinea/Sierra Leone borders. The advance party comprising 11 officers, including 5 from Nigeria, 5 from Mali and 1 from the Executive Secretariat left Abuja on 9 November 2000.

328. We are grateful for the commendable action of Gambia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal which have undertaken to contribute troops to the observer mission. I ask all the other ECOWAS Member States to emulate the example of these countries, and appeal to the international community to provide logistical and financial assistance for this mission.

329. The Community also owes a debt of gratitude to Their Excellencies Gnassingbe Eyadema, President of the Republic of Togo and current OAU Chairman, Alpha Oumar Konare, President of the Republic of Mali and current Chairman of ECOWAS, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the Republic of Sierra Leone, and President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for their efforts in organising separate consultations with the presidents of Guinea and Liberia.

C. SIERRA LEONE

330. The 23rd session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government set up the ECOWAS Committee on Sierra Leone, in the hope of effecting a ceasefire in the country. The committee decided the actions to be undertaken in order to secure the release of the remaining hostages, and agreed to send two regional fact-finding missions to investigate the resumption of hostilities and the diamond traffic respectively.

331. A ceasefire has still not been achieved in Sierra Leone, despite the fact that it would facilitate the cessation of hostilities, the redeployment of Revolutionary United Front fighters to their positions at the date of the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement, and would permit the restitution of weapons, ammunition and equipment seized by the RUF from members of the United Nations Mission to Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL.

332. The mission to Freetown conducted by the Ceasefire Committee from 14 to 20 June 2000 yielded meagre results, mainly because of its inability to satisfy the demands presented to it, and the absence of credible representatives from the RUF, capable of giving commitments and standing by them.

333. The new RUF leader, ''General'' Issa Sesay, took over from the founding leader of the movement, Foday Sankoh, on 21 August 2000. The 4th meeting of the Mediation and Security Council acknowledged the need to maintain the momentum created by this new appointment at all costs and called for the immediate reactivation of the ECOWAS Ceasefire Committee.

334. Some of the equipment seized from the UNAMSIL soldiers by the RUF have been returned, and the Front has promised to return the rest without delay. As a sign of good faith, the Sierra Leonean government agreed to the release of 171 detained RUF men who were not involved in the renewed outbreak of hostilities.

335. The 21 hostages still in the hands of the RUF were released through the good offices of His Excellency Charles Ghankay Taylor, President of the Republic of Liberia. UNAMSIL, meanwhile, carried out a successful rescue operation, which ended on 17 July 2000 with the liberation of the 233 Indian blue berets who had been surrounded by the RUF fighters. I wish to seize this opportunity to commend the Blue Berets on their professionalism and their courage without which these missions could not have been successfully carried out.

336. The Mediation and Security Council has called on Member States which have not already done so to forward to the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat the names of their representatives on the regional fact-finding commissions.

337. The Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS Committee on Sierra Leone held a joint meeting with the United Nations Secretary General on 10 July 2000, during the OAU summit. It was agreed at this meeting that a coordinating mechanism should be set up to harmonise the UN and ECOWAS strategies. Indeed, if the efforts to bring about peace in Sierra Leone are to prove successful, the Government of Sierra Leone, ECOWAS and the UN will need to work in close collaboration.

338. The coordinating mechanism held its first meeting in New York on 11 September 2000, at which time it proceeded to evaluate progress in the peace process in Sierra Leone, examine the status of humanitarian services in the country, and the modalities for resuming implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement.

339. It should be noted that preparations are in progress to establish a special Tribunal for Sierra Leone, and consultations have also been initiated between the UN and the Sierra Leone government on the draft statutes for the Tribunal.

D. RESPECT OF CHILDREN'S RIGHTS AND PROTECTION OF WAR-AFFECTED CHILDREN

340. The ongoing conflicts have led to the deaths of thousands of children while armed bandits have conscripted several thousands into their bands, thus depriving them of education and a comfortable life. The conflicts have made it impossible for tens of thousands of children in our sub-region to have access to the basic services necessary for their health or survival, and have denied them their rights.

341. The military obviously need to be educated about the rights of children before, during and after conflicts, in order to acquaint them with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the OAU Charter on Children's Rights and Welfare. It is essential that concrete steps be taken to raise their awareness on ways of sparing children the most serious repercussions of conflicts. For this reason, a military training seminar was jointly organised in Zambakro, Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, in June 2000 by the Executive Secretariat and the non-governmental organisation, "Save the Children."

342. Following the ECOWAS ministerial meeting held in Accra on 27 and 28 April 2000, the Government of Canada organised an international conference on children's rights and the protection of children in Winnipeg on 16 and 17 September, 2000 . The conference subscribed to an international programme on war-affected children based on the following principles which should guide activities in the immediate and short terms: our leadership should assume responsibilities for the protection of children; all commitments should be met; in particular, all conventions on the protection of children in conflict situations should be signed, ratified and implemented; all to assume greater responsibilities, and an end should be put to the perpetration of criminal acts with impunity; the Statutes of the International Criminal Court should be signed, ratified and implemented; an end to child enslavement; steps should be taken to protect children against murder, mutilation, torture, conscription, rape, exploitation, kidnapping, and any other serious violation of the fundamental freedoms and rights of children before, during and after conflicts; the release, disarmament, demobilisation and social reintegration of conscripted children; access to war-affected children ; emphasis to be laid on prevention of conflicts; elimination of sources of arms ; promotion of children's health, welfare and education; long-term concerted action by the international community through co-ordination of sustained and concrete initiatives; involvement of the youth in the peace process, and formulation of policies and programmes designed to ensure their re-adaptation, reintegration and education.

343. I am therefore appealing to all Member States which have not done so yet, to sign and ratify, or to accede to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the General Assembly on 20 November, 1989.

344. It is my hope that Member States and the institutions of our Community will use the above-mentioned principles as guidelines for the implementation of actions to protect the welfare of the children of our sub-region and, in particular, the welfare of war-affected children.

345. Early in 2001, the Executive Secretariat, will, for its part, make every effort to set up a child protection office in its premi ses ,with the assistance of Canada. I wish to take this occasion to reiterate our appreciation to the Swedish non-governmental organisation, "Save the Children," and to the Canadian Government for their assistance to war-affected children in our sub-region.

E. CONTROL OF ILLICIT SMALL ARMS TRAFFICKING AND PROLIFERATION

346. As part of measures to prevent conflicts and ensure a secure environment for our populations, provision has been made in the ECOWAS mechanism to combat illicit small arms trafficking and proliferation. The quantity of arms outside the control of the authorities in West Africa is estimated at eight million. Most of such arms fuel conflicts in the sub-region and encourage crime in our major cities.

347. The Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Light Weapons, declared by the Authority of Heads of State and Government on 31 October, 1998 for a renewable period of three years, was the starting point of the sub-regional crusade against illicit light weapons trafficking and proliferation.

348. Since then, my Secretariat has been working with assistance from the Programme for Co-ordination and Assistance for Security and Development, (PCASED) on actions identified within the nine priority activities adopted by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 27 March 1999.

349. These priority activities include the establishment, by each Member State, of a national commission on the control of illicit light weapons trafficking and proliferation, and the harmonisation of laws on such arms. So far, however, only five Member States have set up their national commissions. The other Member States which have failed to set up theirs and so do not have an appropriate structure for processing applications from individuals wishing to acquire arms and ammunition covered by the moratorium.

350. I wish to take this opportunity to renew my appeal to the Member States concerned to set up their national commissions without delay and ensure that they are made functional.

351. The various departments in the Secretariat have , on many occasions, requested Member States to forward their current legislation on arms for harmonisation. Most Member States have not done so and the harmonisation process has thus been unable to progress. I therefore urge those Member States that have not done so yet, to forward their current legislation on arms.

F. DESTRUCTION OF ARMS

352. The Executive Secretariat was pleased to have been able to witness the ceremony marking the "Flame of Peace"to which it was invited by the Government of Niger. The destruction of arms through incineration, which took place at Agadez on 25 September, 2000, was the crowning achievement of a long negotiations between the rebel groups and the central authority. You will recall that the Republic of Niger experienced four years of armed rebellion and that three agreements between the Government and the erstwhile resistance army had to be signed before peace was finally restored to the entire Niger territory. The Code of Conduct for the implementation of the ECOWAS moratorium stipulates that Member States shall destroy all arms , ammunition and spare parts collected pursuant to peace agreements.

G. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROTOCOL RELATING TO THE MECHANISM FOR CONFLICT PREVENTION, MANAGEMENT, RESOLUTION, PEACEKEEPING AND SECURITY

 Ratification of the Protocol relating to the Mechanism

353. Current happenings on the political scene underscore all too clearly the crucial importance of the protocol relating to the mechanism, which the Authority of Heads of State and Government adopted on 10 December, 1999 and which entered into force, provisionally, upon signature. It is, therefore, desirable that Member States ratify it without delay to enable its definitive entry into force.

  Mediation and Security Council.

354. The Protocol has made it possible for ECOWAS to avoid having to resort to ad hoc conflict resolution procedures. This task is now assigned to the Mediation and Security Council which has met a number of times at the ministerial level, and once at the level of Heads of State and Government . It has not yet met at the ambassadorial level because a number of Member States have not yet accredited their ambassadors to ECOWAS. In view of the fact that Mediation and Security Council meetings at the ambassadorial level are easier to convene and more frequent than ministerial meetings, this organ will undoubtedly play a crucial role in conflict prevention and management. Council of Elders

355. This Council has not yet been established because a number of Member States are yet to react to my repeated appeals to them to send in the names of persons who can be included in the list of Council members.

356. In order to avoid any further delay in the establishment of the Council, I have decided to submit the names of persons already received to the forthcoming Mediation and Security Council meeting, to enable it make appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Authority of Heads of State and Government. Stand-by Units

357. The inaugural meeting of the Defence and Security Commission, held in Accra on 19 and 20 July 2000, made relevant recommendations on the size of the model stand-by units provided for in the protocol relating to the mechanism, and on their training strategy. The proposals were endorsed by the fourth meeting of the Mediation and Security Council held in Abuja on 4 October 2000. I have despatched a technical team to Member States to ensure that these units are effectively put in place since they will now make up ECOMOG. Visit by a United Nations Security Council

Delegation to the Executive Secretariat

358. A United Nations Security Council delegation visited the Executive Secretariat on 13 October 2000 to discuss issues pertaining to peace and security in West Africa, with particular emphasis on the situation in Sierra Leone and along the Guinea/Liberia and Guinea/Sierra Leone borders. The delegation also discussed ways and means of solidifying the existing partnership between ECOWAS and the United Nations through concerted conflict resolution efforts in the sub-region. The eleven-member delegation, led by the British Ambassador to the United Nations, also included representatives of the other permanent Security Council members: the United States, France and Russia, as well as representatives of Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Mali, the Netherlands and Ukraine.

H. RATIONALISATION OF THE AGREEMENT ON NON - AGGRESSION AND DEFENCE (ANAD)

359. In compliance with the various decisions of the Authority regarding the rationalisation of all IGOs within our sub-region, a meeting was held between ECOWAS and ANAD on 25 February 2000 to recommend ways and means of rationalising the activities of ANAD in order to avoid its activities clashing with those of ECOWAS.

360. That meeting proposed two options for effecting the rationalisation namely:

a) The conversion of ANAD into a specialised Agency of ECOWAS with a specific mandate;

b) The absorption of ANAD into the ECOWAS Secretariat.

I. SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRACY IN MEMBER STATES

361. In demonstration of the Community's commitment to the ECOWAS Declaration of Political Principles of 6 July 1991 on freedom, peoples rights and democratisation, the Executive Secretariat monitors as much as possible all pre and post election procedures in Member States: On 23 December 1999 the Secretariat witnessed the swearing in of President Tandja Mamadou of the Republic of Niger after the successful democratic elections in that State.

ii) The Secretariat was also in the Republic of Guinea Bissau for the elections that brought President Koumba Yala Kobde Nhanca to power in February, 2000.

362. Under the leadership of President Tandja Mamadou of Niger and President Nhanca of Guinea Bissau, the economies of both countries have changed for the better, bringing an improvement in the life of their peoples. The Secretariat was in Senegal to monitor the elections which brought in President Abdul Wade on 19 March 2000.

363. These elections were fair, peaceful and transparent, and I believe that they truly represent a triumph for democracy and the Community. I enjoin all Member States due to organise democratic elections to emulate the example set by the Republic of Senegal.

364. I cannot but praise the conduct of the presidential contestants in the elections in Senegal. The winner accepted victory with commendable modesty, while the other candidate accepted defeat with a high sense of responsibility.

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