Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic
Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has deployed 1,258 troops in Côte
d'Ivoire, six men short of the 1,264 approved for deployment in the fractured
country, ECOWAS sources said Wednesday.
The sources told PANA in Lagos that the troops, as at 18 March, comprised 272 from Benin, 256 from Ghana, 258 from Niger, 200 from Senegal and 272 from Togo.
Regional leaders approved the deployment of the force following the 19 September 2002 mutiny in Côte d'Ivoire by rebels now controlling the northern half of the country.
The ECOWAS force was originally mandated to help monitor the 17 October 2002 cease-fire agreement for the cessation of hostilities and ensure the free movement of humanitarian agencies, but the mandate changed after the 24 January 2003 peace accord signed by the Ivorian government, rebels and political parties in Marcoussis.
Under the France-brokered accord, the West African force and the more than 3,000-strong French soldiers were mandated to assist a proposed government of national reconciliation.
The peace enforcement missions were also required to supervise the regrouping of forces, provide security for key persons and government officials and oversee the disarming and demobilisation of the forces.
To enable the regional force to carry out the new mandate, ECOWAS defence chiefs proposed at their meeting in Accra, Ghana, 4-5 March to increase the force's strength from 1,264 to 3,411.
The military chiefs, under the auspices of ECOWAS Defence and Security Commission, also proposed that the mission be designated ECOMICI (ECOWAS Mission in Côte d'Ivoire), and the additional troops deployed in two phases.
- Pan African News Agency
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