Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The second extra-ordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has opened in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja, with leaders from 10 member countries attending.
Chaired by the rotational chairman of the 15-member regional bloc, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, the summit which is
being held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, is also being attended by Presidents John Atta Mills of Ghana,
Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone; Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal.
Others in attendance are Presidents Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Yayi Boni of Benin, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
of Liberia and Bancai Sanha of Guinea Bissau. The UN and the AU are also represented.
Nigeria's top military chief, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, was sighted at the venue of the meeting, indicating that the leaders may discuss the deployment of troops to strengthen the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI). Air Chief Marshal Petinrin is the Chairman of the ECOWAS Chief of Defence Staff
The US has been consulting with the leadership of ECOWAS over the need to deploy troops to strengthen UNOCI.
International affairs analysts have said UNOCI's role will be crucial if force has to be used to dislodge incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down after the country's electoral commission declared challenger Alassane Ouattara winner of the 28 Nov. presidential runoff.
The stalemate over the runoff - with Gbagbo and Outtara laying claims to the cocoa-rich West African nation's presidency - has led to clashes that the UN said left 173 dead and triggered fears that the post-election crisis could reignite the country's 2002-2003 civil war.
At their first extra-ordinary summit also in Abuja 7 Dec., the ECOWAS leaders suspended Cote d'Ivoire's membership and threw their weight behind Ouattara. They also asked Gbagbo to step down.
-0- PANA MON/SEG 24Dec2010