19 December 2012

West Africa: ECOWAS Monitors Borders

Photo: L'Observateur Palaga
Ivorian militia.

In the wake of cross border attacks at the Liberian borders with the Ivory Coast, the West African regional body, ECOWAS says its attention has been drawn to the situation and is monitoring the conflict very closely.

When Ivory Coast reported that some former Liberian fighters were crossing over into Cote d'Ivoires joining Ivorian rebels fighting against the government, Liberia security forces arrested several mercenaries involved in the Ivorian crisis and sealed up the border to prevent a spillover of the fighting into Liberia.

Liberia and Ivory Coast have participated in several meetings aimed at resolving the crisis with both sides expressing commitment to regional peace and security.

But speaking Tuesday when he and his team visited Finance Minister Amara Konneh, ECOWAS Commission's President Kadre' De'sire Ouedraogo said

"We're monitoring the situation between Liberia and Ivory Coast very closely." He, however, did not mention the means through which ECOWAS was carrying out the monitoring exercise.

In order to ensure economic viability among ECOWAS's member states, Mr. Ouedraogo called for free movement of people and goods.

"There can be no sound implementation of economic policies without the free movement of goods and people within the member states of ECOWAS. For this reason, we're ready to support the governments of Liberia and Ivory Coast for the restoration of total peace and security in the region," he said.

He also lauded President Sirleaf for her leadership role in resolving conflicts within the Mano River basin.

Tension rose at the border with the Ivory Coast sometimes ago following the killing of seven UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.

As a means of ensuring peace and security along its borders with Ivory Coast, the Government of Liberia has since deployed its troops along the borderline and set-up a joint patrol unit with its Ivorian counterparts, including the arrest and subsequent turning over of Ivorian dissidents to the Government of Ivory Coast, amongst other proactive measures aimed at fostering peace and stability in the region.

"Peace and security is very vital for our region" Mr. Ouedraogo said.

"One of our major goals is to ensure that peace prevails in all member states of ECOWAS and make sure that economic growth is enhanced," he added.

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