|Wikileaks:||View 01ABUJA1383 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||PGOV NI ECOWAS|
|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.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001383 SIPDIS SENSITIVE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, NI, ECOWAS SUBJECT: EUCOM BRIEFS DONORS AND ECOWAS ON ASSISTANCE POSSIBILITIES 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 capacity. 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 fronts. 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 SIPDIS 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 concluded. 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 comment. Jeter
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