Akufo-Addo urges the US to help West Africa curb terrorist violence

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the United States to support West Africa stamp out terrorism and extremism, which is undermining the peace and stability in the region.

He stressed that the rising phenomenon of terrorism in West Africa demanded the United States worked closely with the region to defeat terrorism, promote democracy, and ensure peace for the development and prosperity of the peoples of the area.

Speaking at a bilateral meeting with the US's Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken in Washington D.C on Wednesday as part of the 2022 US - Africa Leaders' Summit, President Akufo-Addo said the uninterrupted escalation and spread of violent events in West Africa were posing a direct threat to the peace, stability and democratic gains made by Ghana and several other states in the region.

He noted that the spectre of terrorist threats could in the long-term affect support for democracy, its institutions, and its practices, insisting that the fight against terrorism was not a job for one single nation, it required national and international cooperation and coordination to be won.

The President expressed concern about the presence of Russian mercenaries at the northern frontiers of Ghana and said the happenings were distressing for the country, particularly when Ghana had been very vocal in condemning

Russia's war with Ukraine.

He said the military governments in Burkina Faso and Mali had engaged the Wagner Private Military Company, a Russian paramilitary organization to help fight non-state actors and had allocated a mine in southern Burkina Faso no them as a form of payment for their services.

"To have them operating in the northern part of Ghana is particularly distressing for us in Ghana. We have been very vocal and upfront about condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and therefore to have this group at our borders is a matter of considerable disquiet and concern for us".

"It is especially important that ECOWAS and the West African area remain a democratic space, and that is the reason for the decisions we took over the coup d'états in Burkina Faso, in Mali and in Guinea. ECOWAS has been very consistent in refusing to deal with these governments because of their undemocratic nature of ascension to power," he stated.

President Akufo-Addo emphasized the need for the United States to turn its attention to West Africa and to support her to fight terrorism and extremism to mitigate the dangerous political effect of terrorist violence on fragile democracies in the region.

"The commitment to democratic values and institutions is a high priority for all states in West Africa. The deepening of democracy in Ghana is the very reason why everything ought to be done to ward off the counter-democratic actions by terrorists, violent extremists, and mercenaries in her northern border area.

"We in Ghana have been through all kinds of arrangements, we have had a one-party state, and all other kinds of experiments have taken place and our people are now very clear in their minds, they want to go down the avenue of democratic engagement and that is why the last 30 years of the Fourth Republic has been the most stable in our country's history.

"We want to do everything to preserve that but there are enemies of democracy who are working hard in West Africa today and therefore it is important that we bring that matter to your notice and see to what extent we can engage you as a reliable partner in the push-back of those forces," President Akufo-Addo added.

Acknowledging the challenges in the West African region, Mr Blinken said the United States would stand with West Africa to contain the threat posed by terrorism to the region.

He said the United States valued Ghana's leadership in West Africa and the significant efforts it was undertaking to ensure regional security.

"Many, many challenges, but we're grateful to actually be facing them together and really pleased to have you here this week for the summit" Mr Blinken said.

Terrorist activities have assumed alarming proportions in a number of West African states, particularly during the

COVID-19 pandemic when parts of the region had shut down.

Various measures taken by member states and international actors have achieved minimal success in the fight against terrorists, necessitating the adoption of regional interlocking measures and international cooperation to curb the growing threats of terrorist and religious extremists.

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