The accidental ecowas citizen for12july2012

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Information about The accidental ecowas citizen for12july2012
News & Politics

Published on February 26, 2014

Author: ekbensah

Source: slideshare.net

“The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen”: Never a Dull Moment in West Africa (1) By E.K.Bensah Jr There truly is never a dull moment in West Africa. Just as one seems to be getting jaded over coupstories around Mali and Guinea-Bissau (and possibly preparing for the next one that might come), along come important developments in the sub-region that seek to test or affirm the resolve of West African policy-makers’ commitment to the integration process. All hail the 2nd ECOWAS Games The first would be the fairly-under-reported ECOWAS Games, held for 6 days from 16 to 22 June inclusive. I wrote on my Ghana blog: “Am just watching closing credits of Ghana Televisions's coverage of the first day of ECOWAS Games, which started today, to the tune of the infamous "Azonto" song. Who would have thought that two weeks earlier, the El-Wak Stadium played sorry host to the tragic loss of ten lives as they made their way to their homes in a tro-tro mini-van, after a Nigerian cargo plane crashed. Even as we speak, ECOWAS officials are shuttling up and down the sub-region trying to bring a degree of closure to the Mali crisis. Years to come, our yet-unborn children and maybe grandchildren might marvel at the prospect of what might be considered the "West African" spirit, which might be defined as the ability to overcome tragedy, loss, and pain that the sub-region has inflicted upon us...to still come together as one West Africa under an ECOWAS Games” A few weeks earlier, while ECOWAS was meeting in Cote d’Ivoire, there was some talk of a coup by proGbagbo loyalists in the capital, prompting speculation in some quarters that ECOWAS regular meetings in that country might have to be re-considered, given the fairly chaotic nature of the sub-region, so that more meetings can been held in the capital Abuja. Then there was a pause and a gulp, for Abuja is not any better for all the negative publicity it has been getting off-late on Boko Haram. Soon after the ECOWAS games, which saw Ghana winning more medals than our rivals in Nigeria, we were back to the narrative of the coups, with stories of Malians being terribly dissatisfied with their government and, worse still, Islamists destroying shrines of the ancient city of Timbuktu. It was only last week—4 July—that protesters in the northern part of the country held protests against the Islamists who had enforced strict sharia law in the country, and trapped residents with landmines in their region. Ecowas to send troops to Mali? As we speak, ECOWAS has called on no less than the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the destruction of the sacred sites, which they consider to be a war crime. According to Al-Jazeera, “t he appeal came after Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, the top mediator for ECOWAS, and five other leaders, met in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, with several Malian leaders, though not the country's transitional president or prime minister.” Most importantly, developments in Mali have only forced the hand of ECOWAS to re-consider sending an ECOWAS Standby Force to Mali. In fact, many reports are pointing to some kind of military intervention by ECOWAS, which would require a backing from the UN Security Council. The north has 1

now been over-run by Ansar Dine and MUJAO, radical Islamic groups linked to al-Qaeda ECOWAS & Nigeria vs Ghana Meanwhile in Ghana, the government of Nigeria and Ghana have been facing off over the Ghana government’s decision to evict non-Ghanaians from plying any kind of retail trade in Ghana. This has caused the ire of the Nigerians in this country who feel that Ghana has been victimising them, and it is unnecessary and unfair. Rumours abound that the Nigerians were able to solicit the support of the ECOWAS Parliament, simply because they are a big country and have more clout in the regional legislature. My take on this is simple: in the absence of any kind of economic architecture for ECOWAS, issues like these are bound to happen. Despite its calls for a “one West Africa”, ECOWAS has not been explicit on the relationship between member states and its protocols on free movement. There remains a lot to be done, which finds ECOWAS policymakers wanting. To a lot of West African citizens, they have every right to come to Ghana and set up businesses because of ECOWAS. While this is not true, it is only normal for the perception to become a reality. ECOWAS will clearly need to sit up and review its protocols so that each of the member states are duly protected. ECOWAS should not be an excuse to trounce on the little man in Ghana or any other ECOWAS member state. If it is happening, every single West African should be pointing the finger of blame to their respective ECOWAS National Units for the lack of understanding and confusion on protocols of free movement. Finally, while the visit by ECOWAS Parliament was a source of tension, I thought it offered both a challenge and an opportunity for citizens to test the pace of West African integration. In many respects, regional organisations all over often need crisis and emergencies to change things. Sometimes, that is the best way to get the dynamic of integration going. In 2007, it took the World Cricket tourney in the Caribbean for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to beef up its protocols of free movement, and establish IMPACS—a regional crime prevention agency. September 11 is noted for having prompted the EU to beef up its EUROPOL agency. In sum: change and controversy for regional integration—whether economic or otherwise—is good. I quite like the fact that Nigeria has set a precedent for all ECOWAS community citizens in the manner in which it petitioned the ECOWAS parliament. West Africans, are we listening? In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42 nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" (http://www.critiquing-regionalism.org). Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on ekbensah@ekbensah.net / Mobile: 0268.687.653.

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