West African countries mull standby force to suppress region’s insurgencies

ACCRA— Seven member states of the Accra Initiative, a West African security cooperation initiative, are considering setting up a standby military force to deal with armed insurgencies within the region, a Ghanaian minister said.


Albert Kan Dapaah, the Ghanaian National Security Minister, disclosed this at a press briefing to throw more light on steps so far to protect the territorial integrity of member states and the subregion in general.


“We are seriously considering establishing a standby force, but the form it would take is still under consideration,” Dapaah disclosed.


“The respective chiefs of defense staff from our member states have been holding discussions on the details of the standby force, and once we are ready, we would inform the general public on the form it would take,” he said.


He disclosed that porous borders in the subregion and ungoverned spaces in the various countries were some of the key attractions to the armed insurgents and the jihadist groups.


“One of our key considerations is ensuring that there are not many ungoverned territories in our member countries. We will also make it difficult for the jihadists to radicalize youth in border communities,” said Dapaah.


“Youth unemployment is one critical factor in radicalization. Our ability to handle youth unemployment in a more coordinated manner so that it does not become a threat to national and regional security will be key in dealing with the armed insurgencies in the member states,” he said.


The Accra Initiative was established in September 2017 to enhance intelligence and security cooperation among the member states, which include Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, and Niger.