The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has warned that the unstable security situation along the country’s border with neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire was “grave” and could threaten regional security if not handled through concerted regional action.
During a brief visit to the ECOWAS Commission on Friday, on the margin of a visit to Nigeria, Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf affirmed that it was in response to the gravity of the situation that the country has reinforced security along the border but warned of the possibility that the situation could overwhelm the country’s nascent security services with implications for both countries.
Apparently referring to roaming bands of armed elements that have recently attacked neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire from Liberia, the President suggested that “ECOWAS pay attention to the situation to ensure it does not escalate,” during a meeting with the Vice President of the Commission, Dr Toga Gayewea McIntosh and Commissioners who were around to receive the visitor.
She said the region was confronted with the twin problems of security and humanitarian disaster in the area and praised the management and staff of ECOWAS for their service to the Community.
The president noted however that because of the paucity of development in the region, the Community needed to be more aggressive in its strategy for exploring available services to mobilize resources to develop the region’s infrastructure. This, she said, would help stimulate intra-Community trade and the economies of Member States.
The ECOWAS Vice President and the management used the opportunity to brief Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf on regional programmes being implemented for Liberia including a $2.5 million study to integrate the country into the West African Gas Pipeline Project under which gas from Nigeria is transported through a 450-kilometre pipeline to help meet the energy needs of neighbouring countries. The first phase of the programme covers Benin, Togo and Nigeria.
Another study is also being undertaken to explore the possibility of integrating Liberia into the West Africa Power Pool Project which enables Member States to undertake energy trading, thereby promoting the efficient utilization of the region’s energy endowments.
A third infrastructure project being proposed for the country would link it with Dakar as part of the Trans Africa highway project.
Vice President McIntosh had, while welcoming the Liberian president, on behalf of President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, briefed the visitor of the efforts being made by the new management to revitalize the organization in line with the mandate of regional leaders in order to make it more responsive to the needs of the citizens and the dynamics of the international economic environment.