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Published 8th November 2002

Vol 43 No 22

Côte d'Ivoire

Fighting for peace

Peace talks are faltering, and West African states are reluctant to join a peacekeeping force, but no one has any better ideas

West African states have not given their wholehearted support to plans to send 2,000 peacekeeping troops to Côte d'Ivoire. Nigeria has said its forces will not take part ­ the Ivorian government prefers French-speaking troops and is slightly mistrustful of Nigerian involvement. Meanwhile, Abuja is less than enthusiastic about propping up a government whose followers are attacking its nationals. The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) had been hoping that a Senegalese battalion currently on exercises with the United States would form the backbone of the force but President Abdoulaye Wade said on 30 October that Senegal saw no need to send more than 250 troops. The international community lacks the stomach for a United Nations operation, and the Ecowas force, coupled with the faltering peace talks in Togo, is the only show in town. Benin and Togo have offered 300 troops for the force and Niger has offered 250, even though its nationals in Côte d'Ivoire have been the target of xenophobic attacks. Gambia, seeking to boost its image as a regional peace-broker, has offered 137 soldiers.

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