Liberia News: Boakai Chosen

 -To Lead Negotiation Efforts

Monrovia-President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has been chosen by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lead efforts geared towards finding an amicable solution to the current impasse the regional body is facing in the wake of the severing of ties of three member states.

Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali have announced their departure from ECOWAS in protest of their suspension and sanction imposed on them following the overthrow of their democratically elected governments. The overthrow of civilian administrations contravene ECOWAS standing protocols.

The decision by the three nations not just to withdraw their memberships but to form a parallel body, Alliance of Sahel States or AES has heightened lobby amongst leaders at the 65th Extra Ordinary Session of heads of States held in Abuja, Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu re-elected as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) immediately appointed Liberia’s President Joseph N. Boakai as Chief Negotiator to reunite Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, who are now organized themselves as the ‘Sahel Alliance.’

The Nigerian leader took over the leadership of the regional bloc, and that the reelection marks his second term, having been first elected to the position in Guinea-Bissau on July 9, 2023.

Ahead of his appointment, rumor spread like wildfire in Abuja about President Boakai’s intend to throw his hat in the race for chairman of the regional bloc ECOWAS.

On the heels of the opening of the 65th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS, leaders of the military juntas of the three-member Alliance of Sahel States met in Niamey over the weekend on tackling security threats posed by insurgents.

The military leader of Niger General Abdourahmane Tiani is hosting his counterparts of the same background from Burkina Faso and Mali for the first summit of the Sahel troika.

The three countries say they had formed this alliance known by its French acronym AES as a reaction to the existential threat posed by insurgencies and isolation from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

The AES is thus being born in the full light of history.

The three had announced earlier this year their decision to quit the regional bloc after it passed sanctions and threatened an invasion in reaction to the coups which brought the juntas in power in the three countries between 2020 and 2023.

Burkinabè military leader, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, arrived in Niamey on Friday afternoon to a warm welcome, while his Malian counterpart flew to the Nigerien capital on Saturday morning.

The Alliance of Sahel States (AES) was founded by Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to address political crises and growing security threats from jihadists. These countries left the G5 Sahel and decided to take a new direction in the management of their security challenges, marking a desire to break away from French influence.

The creation of the AES also comes against the backdrop of simmering tensions with Ecowas. After the coup in Niger in July 2023, the regional bloc threatened to intervene militarily, prompting Mali and Burkina Faso to declare that such an intervention would be seen as a declaration of war on the three neighbours ruled by military juntas.

In response, the three countries left the community institution in January 2024. The AES aims to strengthen regional security by pooling military efforts and sharing intelligence to fight terrorism and crime.

It also aims to promote socio-economic development through cooperation on infrastructure, education and health projects, thus improving the living conditions of local populations. The alliance also seeks to harmonize policies and promote common democratic values ​​to strengthen political stability in the region.

The withdrawal of the three countries from Ecowas and the creation of the AES mark a significant break with their previous policies, often influenced by France.

Relations with their former colonial power deteriorated after demands for the withdrawal of French troops and the end of MINUSMA in Mali.

At the same time, the three countries have approached Moscow for alternative military and strategic support.

In January 2024, Russia agreed to establish military cooperation with Niger, and Russian military personnel were deployed to Burkina Faso.

In May 2024, the AES Foreign Ministers finalized in Niamey a text governing the institutionalization and operationalization of the AES Confederation.

However, the AES faces economic and social challenges. Mali, for example, has an extreme poverty rate of 19.1% and relies heavily on agriculture and gold exports.

Burkina Faso faces severe food insecurity and a high poverty rate. Niger, despite projected economic growth of 11.2% for 2024, must overcome the consequences of the coup and manage high military spending.

The Nigerian leader who rose to power in May 2023 was re-elected as the ECOWAS chairman during the 65th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. That event took place at the Presidential Villa in Nigeria’s Abuja capital on Sunday.

In his acceptance speech, President Tinubu said he would focus on consolidating the values of democracy and upholding the interest of the regional body.

“I have appointed the President of Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, to please become our Special Envoy to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic, along with the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, to do around the clock work with our brothers in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic, and to coordinate with me and the ECOWAS Commission, where necessary,” he said according to a statement by his spokesman Ajuri Ngelale.

“I have accepted to continue the service to the great members and the great minds that are committed to democratic values and our journey in the region. I will continue to serve our interests and build on democratic values and the structure that we inherited. Thank you very much.”

During his opening remark at the summit, President Tinubu urged ECOWAS member states to make financial commitments to help in the battle against terrorism in the region.

“As we move to operationalise the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, I must emphasize that the success of this plan requires not only strong political will but also substantial financial resources,” he told the gathering.

“We must therefore ensure that we meet the expectations and recommendations set forth by our ministers of defense and finance in order to counter the insecurity and stabilize our region. Member states must make extra commitments to providing resources for stabilizing the region.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of ECOWAS, President Bola Tinubu, has urged member states of the regional bloc to make financial commitments to help in the fight against terrorism in the region.

Tinubu made the call during his opening remark at the 65th Ordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of ECOWAS at the State House Conference Centre in Abuja on Sunday. The ongoing summit commenced at around 1 pm.

“As we move to operationalize the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, I must emphasize that the success of this plan requires not only strong political will but also substantial financial resources.

“We must therefore ensure that we meet the expectations and recommendations set forth by our ministers of defense and finance in order to counter the insecurity and stabilize our region. Member states must make extra commitments on providing resources for stabilizing the region,” Tinubu said in his opening remark.

Also speaking at the event, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray informed the gathering of a proposal for a special extraordinary session to consider the future of the regional body.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.