Eyadema to coordinate ECOWAS mediation in Ivorian crisis

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- Togolese president Gnassingbe Eyadema has been chosen to coordinate the work of a contact group set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to mediate in the Cote d'Ivoire crisis, sources affirmed Wednesday in Abidjan.
The decision was announced in a communique following a meeting Wednesday in Abidjan of the ECOWAS contact group, which comprises Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau.
Eyadema is scheduled to chair a meeting of the mediation committee, charged with initiating the first direct contacts between Ivorian loyalist forces and rebel soldiers.
The committee has also been mandated to define which countries will contribute troops to a 500-strong ECOWAS peacekeeping force, to take over for French soldiers currently monitoring the cease- fire.
The communique urged the belligerents "to reach a compromise and agree to make sacrifices during the negotiations.
" The group said the planned negotiations should, among other issues, seek to "identify and examine the professional and political demands put forward by the rebels.
" While urging the rebels to be moderate in their demands, the six- member body also enjoined the Ivorian authorities to "exercise forgiveness and tolerance.
" The mediators also urged continued observance of the present truce so as to facilitate the establishing of mechanisms to restore order and stability in Cote d'Ivoire.
They stressed "the need to restore government authority throughout Cote d'Ivoire as an essential condition for a return to order, security and stability.
" Although the communique did not mention rebel disarmament, President Eyadema told reporters that it is "among the issues to be negotiated.
" The meeting, which lasted about three hours, was attended by heads of state from three of the six countries in the contact group.
Those present were Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, Mamadou Tandja of Niger and Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali.
Ghana was represented by Vice President Aliu Mahama, while Foreign Minister Sule Lamiduo represented Nigeria.
Also present were Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, African Union envoy Miguel Trovoada (former Sao Tomean president) and UN secretary general representative Patrick Hayford.

24 october 2002 11:54:00




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