Accra, Dec.19, GNA - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government on Friday gave approval for the creation of a Peace Fund.
The Fund to be financed with contributions by member states and partners would enable the Sub-Region to cope with the financial requirements of maintaining peace and security in West Africa. The approval was made in a 16-point communiqu=E9 issued at the end of the 27th Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Governments held at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC).
The theme for the one-day Summit attended by Heads of State and representatives of the 15-member organisation was: "ECOWAS Instrument for consolidation of Peace and Acceleration of Regional Economic Integration."
Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, who read the communiqu=E9 at a press conference in an answer to a question, said four member states, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal had made contributions to the initial seed money of five million dollars but did not disclose the amount each country paid.
The communiqu=E9 said the Summit also agreed to commence the full implementation of the Community Levy by January 2004 and undertake measures for the full functioning of " a West Africa Free Trade Area" by the end of 2004".
They pledged to redouble their efforts towards the creation of a Customs Union embracing all of West Africa by January 2008.
On peace and security in West Africa, the communiqu=E9 called for accelerated deployment of the United Nations Force in Liberia (UNMIL) throughout that country to promote security and facilitate the successful implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process.
They noted that additional troops were needed in order to enable UNMIL to discharge its mandate and commended UNMIL for its role in stabilizing the security situation prior to the deployment of the UN force.
The communiqu=E9 urged the New Forces in Cote D'Ivoire to return to the Government of National Reconciliation in order to contribute towards the successful implementation of the Linus-Marcoussis agreement signed in January 2003.
They called on all stakeholders to be more supportive of the agreement, which remains the framework for the restoration of peace and stability to that country.
The communiqu=E9 reiterated the need for the UN Security Council to authorize the creation of a UN peacekeeping force for Cote D'Ivoire that would include troops already serving with ECOMICI, the regional peacekeeping force deployed in the country.
It acknowledged the positive developments in Sierra Leone and the reduction of tension and called on the international community to provide additional resources to enable that country to address the twin problems of education and unemployment.
The communiqu=E9 said the assistance should focus on the resuscitation of the economy in order to create more jobs and business opportunities for adolescents and ex-combatants.
The Summit commended the efforts of the Transitional Government of Guinea Bissau at stabilising that country through dialogue and consultations.
They took note of the positive engagement of the Bretton Woods institutions and the UNDP in assisting the Transitional Government to draw up a short-term economic plan.
The communiqu=E9 called on the European Union (EU) and all development partners to provide the necessary funding for the plan and agreed to set up a committee to help to mobilise international donor assistance for Guinea Bissau.
It said the Summit agreed that due to the exceptional situation regarding peace and security in the Sub-Region all member states would participate in the Mediation and Security Council in 2004.
The Summit endorsed the re-election of Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufuor as Chairman of ECOWAS for another one-year term.