ECOWAS advance military team arrives in Abidjan

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- An advance team of 19 military officers arrived here Sunday to prepare for the deployment of peacekeepers from members of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), French military sources told PANA in the Ivorian capital.
Members of the advance team have been drawn from Senegal, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Niger, who offered to send a 1,264-strong peacekeeping force to Cote d'Ivoire.
According to the French sources, four of these officers will work at the headquarters of the French contingent in the Ivorian economic capital, under the command of General Beth.
The others will be dispatched to various locations where 1,200 French troops are currently ensuring the belligerents respect the cease-fire accord signed on 19 October.
The bulk of the ECOWAS force is expected to arrive by the end of November.
The force will be divided into six tactical groups of 173 elements each charged with a specific area.
Each group will have a support unit and commanders.
A Senegalese military officer, will be the overall commander of the ECOWAS peacekeeping force.
The ECOWAS commander's name as well as his deputy and chief of staff have not been revealed.
France, the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany will directly finance or provide logistics and transport to assist the various contingents of the West African peacekeeping force.
France will take care of 600 soldiers while the UK will cater for the Ghanaian contingent.
The US will provide transport for all the units as well as part of the logistics.
The other countries will meet the requirements of the other contingents.
The 19 ECOWAS arrived in Abidjan at a time when the inter-Ivorian negotiations taking place in Lome, Togo since last 30 October are still deadlocked.
Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema is mediating in the negotiations between the Ivorian government and the political wing on the mutineers who revolted on 19 September.
Others attending the peace negotiations include the ECOWAS executive secretary, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a representative of the African Union, former President of Sao Tome and Principe Miguel Trovoada and UN envoy Patrick Hayford.

18 november 2002 23:23:00

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