Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the president of the republic of Ghana, has urged world leaders to fully implement the requirements of Chapters 7 and 8 of the United Nations (UN) Charter and to support Africa’s fight against terrorism and violent extremism in a balanced manner.
He was speaking on “Democracy and Security in West Africa”, at the United States Institute of Peace’s Programme on Governance and Peace, on Thursday, 12th October 2023, in Washington D.C., United States (US).
President Akufo-Addo, who served as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for two terms, pointed out the rising rates of population displacement in many Sahel regions as a result of the insecurity caused by armed groups. He said that “Africa has become the centre of attraction for terrorist groups that are multiplying in the region, following defeats suffered in other parts of the world.”
Despite the significant economic challenges that face ECOWAS Member States, according to President Akufo-Addo, 11 of the organization’s 15 member states—4 of which are military-led—have expressed their willingness to confront terrorists if given the necessary resources.
The president said the Russian-Ukraine war has gained billions in aid funding for Ukraine. According to him, so far $73.6 billion has come from the United States, $138.8 billion from the European Union and its institutions, and $14.5 billion from the United Kingdom. He claimed that on the other hand, the total amount of security assistance provided to ECOWAS during the same period by the US, the EU, and the UK was $29.6 million.
He was confident that the terrorists could be driven out of both West Africa and the Sahel region with the proper amount of backing for ECOWAS.
“Foreign troops would not have to be involved. West African troops can do the job. The Accra Initiative is a good example of indigenous self-help,” said the president.
“The terrorists, as we all know, were chased out of the Middle East and Afghanistan before taking refuge in Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, from where they fled across the Sahara to find refuge in northern Mali after Gaddafi’s downfall.” They have, since then, “spread their pernicious influence eastwards and southwards, with the coastal states of West Africa their ultimate destination.”
The focus on this and the challenge against democracy across the region, the President added, is because “we have, virtually, run out of time to work together in the spirit of multilateralism… If we do not renew our commitments to build, keep and consolidate peace and democracy all over the world, we would have to brace ourselves to live in a new and more dangerous world today and in the future.”
He mentioned that the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionately negative impact on developing nations had, regrettably, left many countries and regional bodies, particularly in the Sahel, in very dire economic situations. According to him, the difficulties we confront in mobilising resources to battle terrorists in “our own backyards” have been made worse by this.