US embassy cable - 01ABUJA1383


Identifier: 01ABUJA1383
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA1383 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-06-19 11:18:00
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
1.  (SBU) Summary.  On June 12, EUCOM POLAD Ambassador Peter 
Chaveas addressed a meeting of Diplomatic Missions in Abuja 
interested in assisting ECOWAS in its peace-keeping and 
conflict resolution activities.  Ambassador Chaveas briefed 
the representatives on EUCOM's three pillars for ECOWAS 
engagement; civilian control and defense reform, regional 
capacity building, and military professionalism. 
Representatives of the EU and other missions present spoke 
briefly on their own current or planned programs with ECOWAS. 
 A general consensus emerged that ECOWAS, although 
institutionally weak, had the political will to pursue its 
peace-keeping and conflict resolution goals, and should be 
supported with carefully targeted and mutually reinforcing 
efforts by donor nations, especially efforts to strengthen 
ECOWAS' accountability, functional scope and institutional 
2.  (SBU) Chaveas also briefed ECOWAS Executive Secretary 
Lansana Kouyate on June 13th on its three pillars of support. 
 Kouyate briefed in reply on the status of its initial steps 
to erect the Mechanism on Conflict Prevention and Security, 
including its four observation stations, central operations 
center, Council of Elders, and stand-by units, all to be 
financed by a 0.5% ECOWAS levy on imports from outside the 
community.  Kouyate said a careful consideration of the 
various EUCOM programs would bring a comprehensive response 
by August.  He also agreed to a visit by the EUCOM DCINC the 
same month.  End Summary. 
3.  (SBU) On June 12, in a meeting hosted by Ambassador 
Jeter, EUCOM POLAD Ambassador Peter Chaveas and EUCOM staff 
briefed diplomatic missions interested in assisting ECOWAS on 
the EUCOM outline of engagement with the ECOWAS Secretariat 
in Abuja.  In attendance were the French DCM Gerard Gerold, 
the Canadian Counselor, John McNeish, the German Ambassador 
Armin Hiller and his DCM, Karlfried Bergner, The EU 
Ambassador Veli Ollikainen, the Japanese Second Secretary 
Matsumoto Koichiro, and the Dutch DCM, Michel Deelen. 
4.  (SBU) Chaveas began by cautioning the assembled diplomats 
that, although EUCOM envisaged an ultimately broad engagement 
with ECOWAS, for the moment EUCOM's relationship with ECOWAS 
was "very embryonic."  EUCOM saw ECOWAS as the most promising 
of regional organizations in regard to security issues, and 
the proper initial forum for EUCOM's  desired sub-regional 
engagement, a break from EUCOM's conventional focus on 
bilateral endeavors.  An initial "get-acquainted" meeting 
between ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lansana Kouyate and EUCOM 
DCINC General Fulford last October in Abuja was followed up 
by a meeting with ECOWAS Chairman, President Oumar Konare of 
Mali, in Bamako in February.  The meeting with Kouyate this 
time, said Chaveas, would be the first real opportunity to 
brief ECOWAS on existing program opportunities. 
5.  (SBU) Chaveas and EUCOM J-5 Division Chief Captain 
Stephen Ewell then gave the assembled diplomats a rundown on 
what EUCOM possibly could provide to ECOWAS, presented in the 
form of three main themes of engagement: civilian control and 
defense reform, regional capacity building, and military 
professionalism.  Regarding civilian control and defense 
reform, Chaveas and Ewell outlined the activities of the 
Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and the various security 
assistance programs available, FMS/FMF, EDA, and IMET. 
Regional capacity building, Chaveas explained, could be 
enhanced by participation in ACRI, Humanitarian Civic 
Assistance, the Excess Property program, and other non-lethal 
forms of assistance such as de-mining training, and 
"Communications and Consequence Management".  Ewell briefly 
described Operation Focus Relief's  training of individual 
battalions for service in UNAMSIL operations in Sierra Leone. 
 Finally, Ewell briefed the diplomats on activities geared 
toward military professionalism, including JCETs, ship 
visits, FLINTLOCK and MEDFLAG exercises, and the prospective 
African Regional Exercise Program, meant to integrate ACRI 
and Focus Relief training into combined exercises for 
regional entities. 
6.  (SBU) Canadian Counsellor John McNeish replied first, 
noting that his government had plans underway to establish a 
Child Protection Unit within ECOWAS, and to assist with the 
establishment of a NGO network within the ECOWAS community to 
feed information to its four "listening posts".  He cautioned 
that ECOWAS could easily be overwhelmed by "too much support" 
that was not carefully targeted.  German DCM Bergner stated 
that the German Government was in a "fact-finding mode," as 
the ECOWAS Secretariat was considered short-staffed and 
disorganized, and "scrambling" to absorb many different 
offers of assistance.  With only two military officers on its 
staff, for example, ECOWAS headquarters had difficulty 
planning for security contingencies as well as planning 
actual deployments.  Institutional capacity-building appeared 
an essential first step, said Bergner.  Some sort of aid for 
an internal accounting system could be useful, he noted. 
7.  (SBU) EU Ambassador Ollikainen echoed the comments of the 
first two speakers, saying that ECOWAS was very weak 
institutionally.  The EU had a study underway of its various 
capacities on political and economic issues, and was 
considering some sort of budgetary support, although this was 
a very preliminary idea, and the EU had considerable 
misgivings about this.  The EU was also assisting with the 
set-up of the four monitoring posts, now just underway, he 
added.  Japanese Second Secretary Koichiro stated that the 
Japanese Government had established a Japan-ECOWAS Trust Fund 
with an initial one hundred thousand dollar contribution, to 
be used for conflict prevention programs.  Koichiro noted 
that ECOWAS did not lack ideas, but there was a dearth of 
concrete initiatives to fund.  He also noted that the GOJ 
preferred to deal through the UN, as funding restrictions 
prevented the GOJ from working directly with ECOWAS on many 
8.  (SBU) Dutch DCM Deelen said that direct Dutch cooperation 
with ECOWAS was "very preliminary."  The Dutch Government had 
donated trucks to UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone, indirectly 
furthering ECOWAS endeavors, but direct assistance was not an 
immediate prospect.  The Dutch Government had asked ECOWAS 
for an "action plan."  Deelen commented that more funds for 
assistance from the Dutch Government could be forthcoming, 
but only if the capacity of ECOWAS to absorb it was clear. 
French DCM Gerold also noted the institutional weakness of 
ECOWAS, although the French Government was convinced of the 
necessity to build cooperation with ECOWAS.  He noted the 
very slow institutional decision-making structure of ECOWAS: 
"Look how long it took to hire the new Deputy Director of the 
Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, General Diarra," he asked 
rhetorically.  (Comment: Filling this position has taken over 
two years.  End comment). 
9.  (SBU) Participants generally agreed on the importance of 
assisting ECOWAS, despite its weak decision-making structure, 
and its limited capacities on many levels.  ECOWAS had the 
political will to take on regional conflict and attempt to 
solve it, participants agreed, and this had to be nurtured. 
The French and Canadian representatives noted the potential 
harm in sending "mixed messages" to ECOWAS, supporting its 
efforts generally while expressing distrust in particular 
cases, most especially the plan to send an inter-positional 
force to the Liberia-Guinea border area.  Both Ambassadors 
Chaveas and Jeter strongly interjected that the great risks 
of that plan, and the refusal of Guinea to allow deployment 
on its soil, had far outweighed any slight to ECOWAS 
sensibilities.  "We did not want to set up ECOWAS for 
failure," said Chaveas.  As a final note, the diplomatic 
representatives in attendance praised USG organization of 
this first-ever donor meeting, and urged regular interactions 
in the future. 
10.  (SBU) On June 13, Ambassador Chaveas and Ambassador 
Jeter, and EUCOM and Mission staff, met with Executive 
Secretary Kouyate, Deputy Executive Secretary Diarra and 
other ECOWAS officials.  Ambassador Chaveas noted at the 
outset that EUCOM had "no great master proposal" for ECOWAS. 
EUCOM and the USG wanted to hear fully from ECOWAS on its 
needs and interests.  "Let us tell you what we have, so you 
can better tell us what you need."  Ambassador Jeter 
mentioned that ECOWAS was now fully certified to receive 
direct U.S. assistance.  Captain Ewell then briefed on the 
three pillars of program support outlined in paragraph 5. 
11.  (SBU)  At the end of the briefing, Kouyate expressed 
great interest in using IMET training for EOCWAS stand-by 
force officers.  "The educational level of our troops in the 
region is very low," he said.  "This sort of program is very 
essential."  He also noted the complementarity of ACRI and 
the French RECAMP programs, and said that ECOWAS wished the 
stand-by units to ultimately train and exercise together, 
with common airlift, logistics and command and control 
mechanisms in place.  Regional training exercises would also 
take care of the Nigerian "ego" problem of insisting its 
troops already possessed full knowledge of modern tactical 
and strategic concepts and were fully trained for regional 
deployment.  Two regional depots, one coastal, one in the 
interior, were envisaged to support joint deployments. 
12.  (SBU) Kouyate gave an overview of the ECOWAS Mechanism 
for Conflict Prevention, Peace-Keeping and Security, noting 
that three headquarters agreements had been already signed 
for the four planned Observation Stations in Benin, Burkina 
Faso, The Gambia and Liberia.  The Observation and Monitoring 
Center at the ECOWAS Secretariat would, he said, ideally be 
equipped with the latest equipment to ensure confidential 
communications and real time information on regional events. 
He noted that the UN was helping with the establishment of a 
"data base" for this operations center.  He briefly described 
the Council of Mediation and Security, and its sub-organs, 
the Defense and Security Commission and the Council of 
Elders.  He noted an ECOWAS-wide customs levy of 0.5% had 
been agreed upon to fund the Mechanism, but "more funds" 
would be needed to fully meet the needs of the Secretariat. 
13.  (SBU) Kouyate then said that his staff would digest the 
EUCOM presentation, and develop a response by August. He also 
pledged his willingness to receive an August visit by the 
EUCOM DCINC, and hoped his staff would have its response 
ready by that time.  Ambassador Chaveas replied that EUCOM 
took a keen interest in enhanced ties with ECOWAS, and it 
understood the heightened focus ECOWAS gave to early warning 
systems with its Observation Stations and Observation Center. 
 He invited ECOWAS to send a representative to EUCOM 
headquarters in Frankfurt to see how EUCOM manages its 
operational responsibilities for 91 countries in Africa, 
Europe and elsewhere.  Kouyate accepted, and the meeting 
14.  (SBU) Comment.  ECOWAS has just begun to bring the 
Conflict Prevention and Security Mechanism to life.  Focused 
and complementary assistance to ECOWAS by donor governments, 
which does not exceed the organization's capacity to receive 
it, and which enhances its ability to respond in an organized 
and early manner to crises, appears the proper path to 
pursue.  The universal judgement among interested diplomatic 
missions in Abuja is that well-coordinated and targeted aid 
will work best.  Although there is some hesitation among 
interested Missions in Abuja regarding an organizationally 
weak and under-staffed Secretariat, there is general 
agreement that there is no alternative to ECOWAS and its role 
in conflict prevention, resolution, and peacekeeping.  End 

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