By Chinelo Chikelu
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Alain De Souza said the political peacekeeping mission in Guinea Bissau is affecting the finances of the regional organization, and is therefore unsustainable.
President De Souza who was represented by his vice, Edward Singhatey, made this known at the Commission’s ‘State of the Community Report’ session at the ECOWAS Parliament in Wednesday.
He said although ECOWAS is obligated to aid Guinea Bissau and the cause worthy of its resources, the cost of keeping the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB), has left ECOWAS in arrears amounting to $42, 998, 819 to troop contributing member states.
The arrears he says is above $30, 927, 924 UA budgeted for the year 2018. “I thought that I will bring this to the attention of the MPs that inasmuch as we have an obligation to Guinea Bissau, but the toll it is taking on our finances is excruciating and not sustainable. We are struggling to find money to sustain the mission in Guinea Bissau,” said the Vice President.
He added the community is struggling to sustain the mission in Guinea Bissau. However, Singhatey said the matter will be discussed in detailed at the upcoming Heads of States and Governments summit in Abuja, Nigeria, this December.
The ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau is made of troops from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Niger, was deployed in May 2012, in the aftermath of a military coup in April 2012. ECOMIB helped establish a civilian led transitional government which ended with the election of President Jose Mario Vaz, in a run-off in May 2014 for a five-year term.
Addressing the issue of non-compliance to ECOWAS Protocol on Community Levy, which affected the community’s 2017 budget, Singhatey commended the region’s community levy mechanism, which he notes is a point of study for other organization.
He added however, that it requires a strong political will to work. “It is not easy, because our region is not the richest. Eleven out of the poorest nations are from our region. We can only continue to encourage them, to bring them onboard so that the commission, the parliament and other ECOWAS institutions do not sink or stop operating. We also want to encourage countries who have lived up to their payments to continue to do so.”