A consultative meeting to revisit the Dynamics of the Casamance conflicts from a Non –State Actors’ perspective took place in Accra, Ghana from 21st to 22nd August 2015.
As the protracted Casamance conflict seemingly defy all kinds of solutions with devastating consequences on the socio economic and political fabric of the region, it has become imperative for stakeholders to galvanize collective initiatives that would address these challenges in order to accelerate the economic properties of the region as envisaged by ECOWAS founders.
Academia, civil society organizations from the sub region of Gambia, Senegal and Bissau Guinea, WANEP and an ECOWAS representative attended.
The Executive Director of WANEP, ECOWAS Zone 1 representative stationed in Gambia, Early Warning Directorate and Professor Ndongo addressed the participants.
The strategic consultative meeting provides a platform to explore possible contributions of non state actors from the three countries to peace and security in the Casamance.
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, in its quest to find a lasting solution to the conflict, conducted an assessment of the conflict system in the Casamance in 2013 and part of the recommendations is to seek closer collaboration with local civil society actors to complement government and ECOWAS’s efforts to addressing the security challenges posed by the conflict.
The key objectives of the meeting were:
to revalidate specific security risk factors in Casamance; identify strategies for partnership between the three target countries, ECOWAS and civil society in support of peace and security in Casamance region; highlight good practices that support community based participation in peace and security; develop strategies / structures for sustainable peace processes in Casamance; develop a short term action plan for stakeholders and civil society intervention to peace and security in Casamance.
The participants identified the progress, gaps and challenges; poverty, high youth unemployment, discrimination, marginalization, land mines, illegal economic transactions, gender-based violence, lack of mutual trust between the leaders of the three countries among others were highlighted.
At the end of the two days four groups developed an Action plan for stakeholders and CSO intervention.
ECOWAS has a role to play to discuss the issue at the Heads of States and Government level at the soonest possible time;
The Sub region’s heads were to meet and discuss at the soonest to be facilitated by the offices of WANEP and ECOWAS;
The Senegalese government is to bring development as it is doing to give assurance that it cares;
The Senegalese army is to play a proactive democratic and republican role;
The International partners are to play vital role to bring in economic projects for economic empowerment for the population especially youth and women;
Civil Society through the CSOs are to act as social auditors to assess the peace process and ensure it is on course;
The people of the sub region are to be involved to take ownership;
Journalists including traditional communicators are to be trained to inform the people of every step of the peace process.
ECOWAS’s peer pressure will be applied to encourage member states to uphold its Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance to promote good practices to prevent conflict.