AU urges action against mercenaries in Cote d'Ivoire

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) has called for the encampment of soldiers in Cote d'Ivoire, while urging the regional bloc ECOWAS to act against mercenaries who are said to be readily available in the region.

An African Union delegation, comprising members of the Peace and Security Council (PSC), were informed of the presence of "free-running" mercenaries in Cote d'Ivoire and the region, after holding talks with the African Ambassadors in Cote d'Ivoire.

In a communiqué issued after receiving the report of PSC delegation, the AU called for international support for the post-conflict reconstruction and development, including national reconciliation, the reform of the defence and security sector.

It called on African countries, especially Cote d'Ivoire's neighbours and its international allies, to jointly act to address security related issues,including those posed by the presence of mercenaries and other armed elements in Cote d'Ivoire.

The AU report came less than two weeks after West African leaders requested the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and the ECOWAS to step up the monitoring of the Liberia-Cote d'Ivoire border following a security breach blamed on foreign mercenaries.

Earlier, a UN report called for border patrols along the 700-km border to prevent the security risks associated with the presence of mercenaries.

Recent reports indicate that Liberian mercenaries fueled the four-month long political standoff in Cote d'Ivoire, fighting alongside soldiers loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara.

In June, an Ivorian mercenary, Isaac Chegbo, also known as Bob Marley, accused by the UN of ordering civilian killings on behalf of Gbagbo, was arrested in Liberia. He was believed to command 200 Liberian mercenaries who fought for Gbagbo's cause.

Another Liberian commander, who confessed to commanding 30 mercenaries, claimed to have fought for President Ouattara. His unit later went on rampage after failing to receive payments for the assignment in April.

The AU delegation was briefed on the security reforms underway in the country during a meeting with Prime Minister Gillaume Soro.

"The Prime Minister candidly and comprehensively provided a profile of the post-election crisis," the AU said in its report on Cote d'Ivoire.

The post-election crisis killed 3,000 people and displaced 200,000 refugees.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 13Aug2011

13 août 2011 08:39:00

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