ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff ended their 5th meeting in Accra on Wednesday, 5th March 2003 by endorsing the proposal by the Force Commander, General Papa Khalilou Fall, for an increase in the size of the regional military mission in Côte d'Ivoire from 1,264 to 3411. This will enable them cope with the additional responsibilities imposed by the Marcoussis Accord and the UN Security Council Resolution 1464.
The 24th January 2003 Accord requires, among others things, that the mission, along with French forces, will assist the Government of National Reconciliation, to be set up under the accord, with the supervision of them regrouping of forces as well as in disarming and demobilisation the forces.
Moreover, the UN Security Council invoked Chapter seven and eight in its Resolution 1464 of 4th February 2003 which it authorised the forces to take all necessary steps to guarantee the freedom of movement of their personnel. They were also expected to deploy all necessary measures to ensure the protection to the responsibility of the Government of National Reconciliation.
While briefing the Commission, Gen. Fall had said the increase was imperative because of the expanded responsibilities of the force whose original mandate was to help monitor the 17th October 2002 agreement for the cessation of hostilities and ensure the free movement of humanitarian agencies.
According to the proposal by the two-day Defence and Security Commission meeting, the additional troops are to be deployed in tow phases. Phase one is expected to bring the troop level to 2,546 while the difference will be provided during the third phase.
The meeting also recommended that Member States contribute the 300 personnel trained in physical security, which was requested by the Force Commander to provide security under the Accord. The Accord vested ECOWAS, the French government and the international community with the responsibility for the security of key persons and government officials.
The Commission proposed that the military mission in Côte d'Ivoire be designated ECOMICI, an acronym for ECOWAS mission in Côte d'Ivoire. It also approved its programme of activities for 2003 whose broad objectives were to promote peace making, peace building as well as encourage exchange programmes, joint training exercises and exchange of visits.
The recommendations of the Commission will be considered by the meeting of the Mediation and Security Council.
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