ECOWAS agrees urgent mission to end Ivorian crisis

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- ECOWAS leaders agreed Sunday in Accra to create a "high-level" mediation mission of Heads of six States comprising Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, on the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire.
A communiqué at the end of their one-day emergency Summit in the Ghanaian capital said the mission would "establish contact with the insurgents, prevail upon them to immediately cease all hostilities, restore normalcy to occupied towns, and negotiate a general framework for the resolution of the crisis.
" It also said ECOWAS military Chiefs would be working on a standby peacekeeping force.
ECOWAS chairman and Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade had suggested that the 15-nation West African States contribute troops for possible deployment to Cote d'Ivoire where mutinous soldiers have been fighting troops loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo's government since 19 September.
The communiqué read by the ECOWAS Executive Secretary, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said the Special Representative of the African Union, as well as the Chairman of the ECOWAS Ministerial Mediation and Security Council, and himself, would also work closely with the mediation mission.
Eleven heads of State from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo attended Summit.
Also present was South African President Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the African Union.
The Summit condemned the uprising and the loss of lives and property, urged the restoration of democracy and constitutional rule in Cote d'Ivoire.
"The Heads of State strongly urge the insurgents who continue to occupy several towns, to desist from all violence and attacks against the inhabitants of these towns, and engage in immediate dialogue with the ECOWAS mediation mission with the view of .
settling their dispute with the government by peaceful means.
" The communiqué said an emergency meeting of ECOWAS Defence and Security Commission would be convened, and appealed to all Ivorians to settle their differences through dialogue.
"The Summit expressed satisfaction at the reassurances given by President Gbagbo, who informed fellow Heads of State that the insurgents were mercenaries.
"The Heads of State and government appealed to President Gbagbo and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso to urge their peoples to maintain relations of good neighbourliness, fraternity and solidarity," it added.
It said the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the defence of democracy, good governance and the rule of law "by every means possible.
" Chambas said in his opening statement the unfolding security situation "Cote d'Ivoire is a serious source of concern to the sub-region, Africa and indeed the entire international community".
Hundreds of people, including Ivorian Interior Minister Emile Boga Dougou and former junta leader, General Robert Guei have died in the uprising staged by some 750 soldiers protesting their planned demobilisation.

29 september 2002 20:52:00

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