West African leaders agree to set up regional force

Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have agreed to create a regional force to intervene against violent insurgency in the region, an official said.

Meeting in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Sunday, the leaders said the regional force would also intervene in the event of a coup, in view of several coups experienced in the past two years in some member countries.

The leaders discussed political, security, economic and financial issues as well as transitions in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

ECOWAS leaders “adopted a project to create a regional force that will intervene whenever necessary, be it security, terrorism or restoring constitutional order in member states,” Omar Alieu Touray, head of the ECOWAS Commission, told reporters.

It is about taking charge of the bloc’s “own security instead of relying on voluntary contributions.”

Military officials from the region will meet next January to discuss modalities for establishing the regional force, according to Touray.

Opening the meeting, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, the bloc’s chairman and president of Guinea-Bissau, said the ECOWAS Commission needed to be steadfast in confronting the numerous challenges facing the sub-region.

“There is an urgent need to stem the waves of unconstitutional changes to democratically elected governments in West Africa while addressing holistically the root causes of agitation and unrest,” he said.

Several countries in the region have been affected by violence which started in northern Mali and has spread to Burkina Faso and Niger.

Military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea have rocked the region since 2020.

Touray, meanwhile, said the leaders also called for the release before January of the 46 Ivorian soldiers imprisoned since July in Mali.

Source: Anadolu Agency