ECOMOG force Commander due in Abidjan Sunday

  Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Commander of the West African peacekeeping force for Cote d'Ivoire, Senegalese General Papa Khalilou Fall, is expected to arrive in Abidjan Sunday, ahead of the full deployment of the force 10 January, ECOWAS sources told PANA in Lagos Thursday.
   Fall will be on ground three days after the arrival of an advance team, expected to be airlifted by the French.
   The advance team of at least 10 soldiers from the five troop contributing nations (Senegal, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Niger), will arrange to receive the equipment to be used by the entire force of some 1,264 soldiers.
   ECOWAS partners US, UK, France and others have agreed to provide logistics, equipment and other supports to the sub-regional force, which will operate alongside the 2,500 French soldiers now enforcing a cease-fire between the Ivorian government and rebel forces in October.
   Cote d'Ivoire has been in turmoil since 19 September, when some of its soldiers mutinied in an apparent move to forestall a government plan to demobilise them.
   The rebels' ranks have since swollen as they now occupy about half of the West African nation, which had been widely regarded as the bastion of economic prosperity, peace and stability in the troubled region.
   Though ECOWAS leaders agreed at their extra-ordinary meeting in Dakar, Senegal 19 December to deploy the peacekeeping force by 31 December 2002, officials said the deployment was pushed forward to 3 January due to "communication difficulties".
   Nigerian Ambassador Ralph Uwechue will serve as the civilian head of the force, while Ghanaian Colonel Robert Sackey has been appointed the Deputy Force Commander, and Colonel Boni Chabi Amoussa Mathieu of Benin, the Chief of Staff.

02 january 2003 13:38:00

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