Ousman Sonko said “the experience of West African states emerging from conflict over two decades has shown that security is a prerequisite for economic and social development and regional integration and it is also acknowledged that security can only be ensured through democratic control of the security sector.”
He made these comments while opening a two- day high level inter-governmental experts meeting on the review of Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) regional framework on security sector reform and governance. The document finalised in Banjul during the two-day synergy will be presented to Ecowas Council of Ministers for approval paving the way for its implementation in the sub-region.
The minister described the document as “timely given the formidable political and security challenges confronting the sub region”.
“The 2001 Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance of Ecowas constitute the bedrock for the civilian control of the armed forces and security services in the region. Rendering the security sector more efficient and more accountable to the democratic institutions is a sine qua non for enhancing the provision of security to citizens,” Minister Sonko, one of the longest serving Interior ministers in the sub-region told the delegates.
Gambia on security reforms
The minister informed the security experts meeting that The Gambia under President Jammeh has embarked on security sector reforms by mainstreaming gender in the sector’s development.
“Thus, we are coming up with measures to promote the equal representation of men and women in the security institutions. The Gambia Police Force has introduced a human rights unit and a code of conduct is also being drafted for the police and other security institutions all geared towards making them accountable to the citizens.” he noted.
“Building an accountable, responsive and capable security services should remain a priority to all Ecowas members states, so that everybody live under a safe, tranquil and stable environment. The linkage between effective and democratically governed security sector is an essential element for the integration of Ecowas states,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Lt Col Abdourahmane Dieng, head of division, regional security at Ecowas Commission, who stepped in for Ecowas chief on political affairs, peace and security said: “The development of this document is timely, given that our region is facing many political, security and humanitarian challenges resulting from internal conflicts. The recent examples of Mali, and Guinea Bissau give credence to the urgency that should be accorded in the development of such a document.
“The role of Ecowas has thus become crucial to assist member states to prevent, anticipate, prepare and respond better and faster to issues that could challenge security and stability of the region adding that the document examines and recognises that governance and human security are at the core of the regional strategy which aims at making security a regional public good and essential services to citizens, as well as a vital element in achieving sustainable development.”
By Sainey Marenah]]>