Growing terrorism in West Africa a danger to our sovereignty – Akufo-Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has charged West African leaders to do more to end terrorism in the sub Region.

According to him, no country is safe until all terror activities are brought to an end.

Speaking at the opening of the Heads of State meeting of the Accra Initiative, Mr Akufo-Addo said terror activities in the sub-region are gradually weakening the democracy of affected countries.

“I say nothing new when I say that West Africa continues to suffer from the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism spreading rapidly across the region”.

“Indeed as recent events continue to ravage the Sahelian countries of West Africa, epicentres of terrorism, we continue to watch in angst how activities of terrorist groups have resulted in the unfortunate disregard of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of our states, the painful deterioration of the strength of our democracies and the wanton displacement of the masses of our people.”

The Accra Initiative is a meeting of seven West African countries in Accra to discuss ways of preventing the spillover of terrorism from the Sahel region.

Islamist militants have gradually spread their activities from Niger to Burkina Faso and Mali to West Africa’s coastal states.

Over the years, West Africa has dealt with chronic instability caused by political crises and cross-border terrorism.

Five West African countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo — established the Accra Initiative in 2017 in order to collaborate against violent extremism in the region.

Mali and Niger were admitted as observers before becoming members in 2019.

The program promotes information sharing, training of security and intelligence personnel, and cross-border military operations in an often-volatile region.

So far, the Accra Initiative has resulted in little tangible action.

In 2018 and 2019, member countries conducted joint military operations on their borders which resulted in the arrests of about 700 suspected terrorists and gang members, and the seizure of homemade weapons.

Since then, the threat of jihadist groups has only grown. Ghana’s minister of state security Albert Kan Dapaah said that between July 1st and September 30th of this year alone, there were 264 recorded terrorist attacks in West Africa, resulting in 745 deaths.

Kan Dapaah called on member states and the international community to continue the dialogue to come up with a more proactive approach to fighting terrorism.