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ECOWAS President Touray Says Military Rule Poses Existential Threat to West Africa

EXCER0T: He insists It has led to an increase in terrorism in the region.

The President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Omar Touray has warned people of West Africa against being hoodwinked by romantic notions of military takeovers; insisting that recent cases of military rule in the region have led to worsening insecurity and exposure of terrorism.

Touray decried that the growing military rule poses existential threat to the region, insisting that there must be no weak link if ECOWAS must prevail.

Delivering a welcome address at the 51st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council at Ministerial Level in Abuja on Wednesday, Touray said: “On the political front, the transition roadmaps and timetables agreed with the transition authorities in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso for a rapid and peaceful restoration of constitutional order have been implemented at varied paces amid worsening security situations. The attempted coup d’état in Niger has further distracted attention from the support to these transition processes as the transition countries seek to forge a solidarity with the military authorities in the Republic of Niger, thereby creating an impression of a divide between them and ECOWAS.”

He noted that: “These military coups are not only based on fake narrative and false justifications; they are also a driver of insecurity in the region. In a statement at the recently concluded Saudi Africa summit, this is the warning that President Tinubu had to sound :

“Do not be hoodwinked by romantic notions of military takeovers; they end up pointing their guns at each other, trying to control the capital cities and leave the border areas to the terrorists. For those who may still not be aware, this poses an existential threat and there must be no weak links in ECOWAS if we are to prevail.”

He said: “To drive home the gravity of the insecurity to which military coups contribute, let us look at some data:

“Victims of insecurity – those killed, maimed, and displaced and those who have lost livelihoods and educational opportunities – are the subject of conflicting figures. Yet all the figures are indicative of the pain and suffering that insecurity continues to inflict on the people.

“For example, from January 1st to October 22, 2023, 1503 incidents of terrorist attacks were recorded in Burkina Faso; 1044 in Mali; 376 in Niger 166 since the coup).

“These incidents have resulted in several fatalities: 6811 in Burkina Faso, 2889 in Mali: 768 in Niger (557 since the Coup). In addition to the unbearable toll on human lives, insecurity continues to have dire humanitarian consequences. In just Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, a total of 4.8 million people face food insecurity, 2.4 million people are internally-displaced and close to 9000 schools remain closed.

“A disaggregation of the data shows that Burkina Faso has the highest number of food-insecure people – close to 2.2 million; followed by Niger with 1.9 million and Mali about 800 000. Burkina Faso also accounts for the largest number of internally displaced people – about 2 million; while Mali and Niger each have close to half a million displaced persons. The number of schools closed stands at 6000 in Burkina Faso, 1700 in Mali and 1000 in Niger. to the claims of the military authorities, the incidences of terror attacks have been on the increase with attendant humanitarian consequences.

“From January to 30th November, the number of terrorist attacks in Burkina was 1256, in Mali-1032 and in Niger 391. The figures in terms of casualties were 4788 in Burkina Faso; 2174 in Mali and 606 in Niger.”

He noted that the overall peace and security environment, from the Sahel region through the Lake Chad Basin and beyond remains a matter of concern, lamenting that: “Terrorists and armed groups continue to hold sway in Central Sahel and the northern parts of some coastal states. Indeed, it is evident that terrorism and unconstitutional political practices have remained the major security threat in the region that must be frontally addressed.”

He however pledged that the region would continue “to make efforts for a quick return to constitutional order in these Member States” adding that “as part of our humanitarian response, the Commission is taking several significant steps to increase its intervention assistance, including the deployment of some funds from the Counterterrorism Fund to provide for basic education to conflict-affected children, livelihood support, and resilience building.”

In his opening address, the Chairman of the Mediation and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar said the meeting availed the region ministers the opportunity to exhaustively discuss its collective existential challenges, and to devise strategies to tackle these emerging threats for the overall well-being of their community citizens.

“It is through these discussions that we can effectively shape the policies for our collective response, ensuring comprehensive and coordinated actions that align with the needs and aspirations of our Member States,” Tuggar noted.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

   

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