Combating extremism and piracy collective responsibility, says Zanetor Rawlings

The MP for Klottey Korle, Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, says individual ECOWAS member states cannot deal with the challenges unilaterally because the problems are huge and complex

The MP for Klottey Korle, Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, has said that combatting extremism and piracy in West Africa is a collective regional responsibility.

According to Dr Agyeman-Rawlings, individual ECOWAS member states cannot deal with these problems unilaterally because the challenges they pose are huge and complex.

“Security issues require international collaboration and co-operation and it means member states should be able to draw each other’s attention to happenings within their territories that have the potential of creating vulnerability for the sub-region,” she said.

Agyeman-Rawlings, who is also the deputy ranking member on Parliament’s defence and interior committees, was quick, however, to point out that tackling the crisis was not only about meetings and conferences but also required member states to share candid information about developments and vulnerabilities within their territories which require support from the regional body.

The sea, the sea

A statement from the Klottey Korle legislator and daughter of the former president Jerry John Rawlings said that previously when one heard of piracy, it was mainly in the Horn of Africa and seemed far away. However, international statistics on maritime crime last year showed that 90% of all piracy was happening in the Gulf of Guinea.

Agyeman-Rawlings attributed the whole state of insecurity and piracy to the scramble for resources, adding; “The huge oil reserves in the West Africa sub-region have led to movement of commercial vessels, which make it an important region economically.”

She also highlighted how landlocked areas in West Africa rely on access to the sea for imports and exports, further contributing to sub-regional vulnerability and insecurity.

She added that, since violent extremism started to spread, it is becoming obvious that the perpetrators are drifting southwards, intent on gaining access to sea routes. As such, obviously, they would want to target coastal countries such as Côte d’lvoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

Respect for term limits

Agyeman-Rawlings also expressed concern about the penchant for elected leaders to extend their tenure by amending their constitutions to seek further terms. She said though these are issues many do not want to talk about, they are causes of discontent and instability which can be capitalised on by extremists.

She said that such developments lead to weaknesses within the sub-region which need to be addressed and taken on board seriously. “It defeats the purpose of having ECOWAS and the AU. Member states are to adhere to the various agreements for the betterment of the citizens,” she urged.

The MP said another factor that contributes to the spread of violent extremism is corruption and inequitable distribution of resources, which results in gaps in local government and creates a vacuum, again capitalised on by certain extremist groups. These extremists then move in, radicalising young people and, in some instances, making available necessary goods and services that governments fail to provide communities.

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