West Africa is destabilized by bordercrossing foreign troops UN says

Stabilizing Liberia “is contingent upon the timely mobilization and deployment of required troops throughout the country, especially as UNMIL (UN Mission in Liberia) begins to disarm and demobilize combatants,” according to a report from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, responding to Security Council recommendations on West Africa.The Council “may therefore wish to call upon those member states that had promised troops for UNMIL to redeem their pledges as soon as possible,” it says.At the same time, the Economic Commission of West African State (ECOWAS) has asked for the expansion of the small UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI) into a full peacekeeping mission because the peace process remains deadlocked, the report says.The planned withdrawal of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) could be affected by destabilizing factors, including the possible return of Sierra Leonean ex-combatants from Liberia and the need for forces to monitor the border with Liberia.The cross-border movements of foreign combatants fuel instability in West Africa, the report says. In response to a Security Council recommendation, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has undertaken a comprehensive study of ways to strengthen the capacity of ECOWAS in the areas of early warning, conflict prevention and peace-building, it saysMeanwhile, the newly formed transitional government of Guinea-Bissau, formed after a brief military coup in September, plans to hold legislative elections by the end of March 2004, but the international community needs to provide urgent financial and other support to help with the preparations, it says. read more

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