ECOWAS' Unfolding Shame

The Perspective
April 13, 2001

Leaders of the West Africa's regional organization ECOWAS have finally ended one of their talkshops with clearer indications that majority of member countries have decided to side with Charles Taylor's destabilization regime.

Not surprisingly, the Reuters news agency reports that, "Diplomats said the summit's decision looked likely to be seen as pro-Liberian by Guinea and Sierra Leone, the two neighbours with which it is embroiled in border conflict".

That ECOWAS has decided to endorse Taylor's destabilization plots is a fact ignored or strange to only those who have not followed events in West Africa over the past decade. ECOWAS, led by Nigeria, opted to implant the seeds of chaos it is now incapable of weeding out. ECOWAS has simply stabbed Guinea in the back with a terrible lack of remorse for its conspiracy against this only Francophone country that has wasted huge resources in Liberian and Sierra Leone peacekeeping. The group's Libyan club, in which Mali, Ghana, and Burkina Faso feature prominently, is determined to save Taylor from collapse by Tripoli's command.

Dancing to Taylor's hymns of doom, ECOWAS believe it can thwart UN sanctions on the Liberian pariah. Thus they have organized a funny little clique to "monitor" Liberia's compliance despite the fact that the UN has named a Committee to monitor compliance with its demands. The decision is clearly an endorsement of Taylor's demands sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently. In a letter circulated before it could get to UN headquarters, Taylor spoke for ECOWAS when he wrote:

"I wish to bring to your attention and that of the Security Council my government's dismay at the failure of the Security Council to engage the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in a partnership effort to address the concerns of the Council in the spirit of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. As you are aware, ECOWAS has undertaken peacekeeping initiatives in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea Bissau with the support of the Council. It has further institutionalized this role through a Protocol establishing its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security. Despite ECOWAS request to the Security Council to work with the Liberian Government on the matters raised by the Council, Resolution 1343 relegates ECOWAS merely to a source of information and not as a regional grouping capable of conflict management under a multi-lateral framework".

Rejoicing over ECOWAS' complicity, Liberia's Foreign Minister Monie Captan declared, "I think that is a step in the right direction. It would take the verification out of the hands of a subjective party." The "subjective party" is the UN, while the "objective party" is like-minded cronies, nearly all named in the UN Panel of Experts Report as contributing agents to West Africa's decay for diamonds.

But the feebleness of this organization is revealed by its inability to organize a less than 2000 man force without carrying hats in hand begging for donor dollars. Its hypocrisy is shown by the fact despite Taylor's continuing belligerence towards Guinea and Sierra Leone, it is advancing a "mediation committee" to hold talks between President Conte and a man who continues to subject his people to horrors and beating his chest about it.

Reuters noted that, "West African leaders gave Liberia on Wednesday what could be a vital breathing space as it faces the prospect of international sanctions for its alleged collaboration with Sierra Leone rebels". But the final test in ensuring justice is with the UN in deciding how long Taylor will breathe for others to suffocate. It remains to be seen whether the world body will listen to conspirators in crime as witnesses.

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