ECOWAS to send 2,000 peacekeepers to Cote d'Ivoire

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- A peacekeeping force of 2,000 troops is to be deployed to Cote d'Ivoire, the executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced here at the weekend.
Addressing a meeting of the ECOWAS Defence and Security Committee in Abidjan Saturday, Ghana's Mohamed Ibn Chambas said the force will be at the frontline, which separates Ivorian mutineers and government forces, within 10 to 15 days.
Senegal, which is to send the biggest contingent, will provide the commander of the cease-fire monitoring force.
Benin, Niger, Mali, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau will also send troops.
The cease-fire agreement was signed on 17 October between the insurgents and the ECOWAS mediators.
Some 1,200 French troops have since 19 October been monitoring the cease-fire along a line that runs from eastern to western Cote d'Ivoire, at the request of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.
ECOWAS has requested several Western countries, including France, the United States, Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and Canada, to help finance the peace-keeping operation.
They have reportedly consented.
Talks between the insurgents and the Ivorian government are scheduled for next week, probably in Lome, at the invitation of President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, ECOWAS co-ordinator in the Ivorian crisis.
The creation of an ECOWAS peace-keeping force was recommended in a report produced by a group of Senegalese, Ghanaian, Nigerian and Malian officers, assisted by French, American and British military experts.
The group met with rebels and loyalist forces for two days each in Bouake (350 km north of Abidjan), and Yamoussoukro (230 km north of the business capital), respectively.
The report was made more than a week after the signing of the cease-fire and over five weeks after 750 soldiers mutinied to protest their impending demobilisation from the National Armed Forces of Cote d'Ivoire (FANCI).
More than 500 were killed and many others wounded in the insurrection, originally termed by the government an attempted coup and later branded as a "terrorist aggression.
" Those killed include the former military junta leader General Robert Guei and the Senior Minister of Interior and Decentralisation, Emile Boga Doudou.

28 october 2002 11:28:00

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