Graphic Online

Graphic Online 

ECOWAS, ECCAS to stop cross-border crimes

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem

Member states of the Economic Comm-unity of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) have vowed to halt the increasing violence and cross-border crimes that threaten countries within the two blocs.

The countries acknowledged that terrorism, human, drug and arms trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime in the regions had the tendency to derail the democratic processes in their respective countries and thwart the socio-economic advancement, as well as threaten the stability of the entire region.

The countries issued the resolve after a closed-door meeting of the Heads of State of the two blocs, including Ghana's President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the 2 Fevreir (2nd February) Hotel in Lome as part of a day's joint summit of the Heads of State of the two regions.
Ghana's Foreign Minister, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, told the Daily Graphic after the meeting of the 26 Heads of State that the outcome of the closed-door meetings was referred to as Lome Declaration.

The summit and its closed-door meetings were jointly chaired by the President of the Togolese Republic and Chair of ECOWAS, Mr Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, and the President of the Republic of Gabon and Chair of ECCAS, Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Security

Ms Botchwey said the leaders considered the overall security situation of the two regions and noted the risks created by the increased number of security challenges, particularly terrorism, human, drug and arms trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime.


She stated that the leaders pledged their commitment to also create conditions favourable for sustainable peace and a secure environment in the common area of the two regions.

In that direction, she said the leaders activated the processes for increased sharing of information, especially intelligence across borders to fight against such criminal activities.

She noted that the foreign ministers of the two blocs were also entreated to meet annually to review the security situation, after which the Heads of State would also meet every two years to assess the progress made and strategise for the future.

The Foreign minister added that the leaders called on each other to adhere to democratic and human rights principles to ensure that there was regular, transparent, free and fair elections coupled with the adherence to the dictates of their various Constitutions.

She said they committed themselves to the establishment and strengthening of early warning and rapid response mechanisms at the national and regional levels, adding that there was the need to include civil society, opinion leaders, women, young people and state actors in this front.