Let’s fight growing terrorism threat together - President urges African countries
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stressed the need for countries in Africa to coordinate their approaches and strategies in the fight against the growing threat of terrorism and extremism in the region.
He said the growth of breakaway global terror groups, coupled with the porous nature of African borders, called for regional and continental approaches to contain the growing threats of terrorist and extremist activities.
The President made the call in Accra yesterday when he addressed the opening of a forum aimed at immortalising the contribution of Kofi Annan, Ghana’s iconic diplomat, to global peace and security.
The forum, an initiative of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPC), one of the legacies of the former United Nations Secretary General who passed away last year, attracted top-level political leaders, diplomats and security experts
The participants dialogued on the most critical and evolving peace and security trends on the African continent. The Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum will be an annual platform to hatch ideas that will continually champion and ensure Mr Annan’s cause for policies and programmes on peace, security and development.
This year’s events, on the theme: “Peace operations in the context of violent extremism in Africa,” was attended by some past African heads of state including John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, Prof. Amos Sawyer of Liberia, as well as Mrs Nane Annan, legislators, service chiefs and the diplomatic corps.
President Akufo-Addo said the coordination of activities between the armed forces and intelligence agencies on the continent “is absolutely essential to successful battle against terrorism,” adding that it was unacceptable that poor countries spent high proportions of their national budgets on defence and security matters to the detriment of necessary expenditures on social concerns.
He indicated that though the sub-region’s security management initiatives had helped to mitigate extremism and instability, there was a need to tackle issues of endemic poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and bad governance, as well as the adoption of appropriate technology to achieve peace, security and economic transformation of West Africa.
He pointed out that the endemic poverty and widespread disillusionment amongst the youth in Africa were providing fertile breeding grounds for dangerous migration across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats in the hope of finding a better future in Europe.
Poverty, he added, had provided an impetus to breed a new generation of terrorists and violent extremists.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the two most active terrorist groups in West Africa- the Al Qaeda and the Boko Haram- had exploited the levels of poverty in the areas they operated in to recruit and indoctrinate the youth.
Notwithstanding the growing security challenges in the sub-region, the President said it was important that the principles of democratic accountability, individual liberties and human rights and the rule of law were promoted to address the vulnerability of adopting violence to address issues.
According to him, when people are covered in the quarters of the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights and the principles of democratic accountability, they see their responsibilities and allegiance to the wider public interest not just of the conveniences of the government but to the collective good of the country.
President Akufo-Addo said despite the peace and stability in Ghana, the country was not immune to terror attacks.
“Over the years, we have learnt most often through bitter experience that terrorism and violent extremism are not restricted to particular geographic locations or jurisdictions as impact of a single terrorist incident one part of the world resonates throughout the world,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo recalled how in 2015, agents of Islamic State succeeded in recruiting a few adherents from Ghana’s university campuses to join the ranks of the group’s fighters in Libya and Syria, who were later known to have died in combat.
He said in aid of the global call to end terror activities, Ghana had signed and ratified a number of international instruments aimed at the prevention and suppression of international terrorism.
“Ghana has adopted the world coordinated interagency approach which encourages the timely sharing of information and intelligence operational coordination and join strategy formulation and has proved essential towards ensuring the efficient execution of the country’s counterterrorism policy,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The United Nation’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and Sahel, Dr Ibn Chambas, supported President Akufo-Addo’s call for collaboration in the fight against terrorism on the continent.
He stressed the need for countries on the continent to remain engaged and determined in the fight against violent extremism.
After the event, President Akufo-Addo, at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre at Teshie, cut a sod for the construction of a monument in honour of the late UN General Secretary.