WAANSA Expresses Deep Shock and Dismay About the Eruption of Armed Violence in Cote d'Ivoire

(A Statement issued on October 4, 2002, By the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA) in Bamako, Mali)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

October 8, 2002

Members of the Steering Committee of the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA) have expressed deep shock and dismay about the eruption of armed violence between rival troops of the Ivoirian Armed Forces, which began on 19th September 2002. In that confrontation, rebel troops occupied the cities of Bouake and Korhogo and major exchange of fire took place in Abidjan. In the wake of these, hundreds of people were killed, several hundred more were wounded, and thousands have been displaced with some losing their homes and other properties to arsonists.

The Steering Committee members note that the situation is part of the continuing cycle of violence, which is part of the conflict system that has engulfed West Africa since the Liberian civil war started in 1989. The carnage and human cruelty in Sierra Leone, the sporadic violence in Guinea and the massive refugee situation are all manifestations of the West African conflict system.

The WAANSA Steering Committee members made these observations during their consultations held on 3rd and 4th October 2002 in the Malian capital, Bamako.

The West African Action Network on Small Arms is a regional network whose principal objective is to address the issue of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in order to ensure that the West African sub-region becomes a just, equitable, democratic, safe and peaceful place, free of illicit small arms and light weapons and their misuse.

WAANSA underscores that the proliferation, easy access and misuse of small arms and light weapons endanger the security of people, communities and nations; and West Africa is no exception. Small Arms remain the weapons of criminal activities, intra and inter communal feuds, local wars, armed insurrections, armed rebel activities and terrorism. Small arms are used to grossly violate human rights, to facilitate the practice of bad governance, to subvert constitutions, to carry out coup d’etats and to create and maintain a general state of fear, insecurity and instability.

The Steering Committee members express thanks to the ECOWAS Authority for their prompt response to the Ivoirian military unrest and appeals to the government and the rebel soldiers to cooperate with ECOWAS by ensuring the full implementation of a ceasefire thereby allowing for negotiations and mediation in the search for a lasting solution to the problems precipitating the unrest.

The Steering Committee members wish to use the development in calling for the respect of and rigid implementation of the ECOWAS Moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of small arms and light weapons. In this connection and in the search for peace in Cote d’Ivoire and other countries of the region, WAANSA wishes to remain reliable partners of ECOWAS and the voice of civil society on small arms.

WAANSA contact: Conmany B. Wesseh (+225) 22 411 421, e-mail:cede-reg@afnet.net
Mariam Djibrilla Maiga (223) 220 77000, e-mail:mdm7@datatech.toolnet.org
Christiane Agboton-Johnson (+221) 824 0933, e-mail:malaosene@hotmail.com
Afi Yakubu (+233)21 811291, e-mail: "mailto:fosda@africa.net"

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