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Insecurity In West Africa Threatens Region - 2003-02-05

The political and military situation in West Africa, especially in Ivory Coast and Liberia, continue to attract the attention of political observers.

English to Africa reporter Richard Kotey spoke with Richard Cornwell, head of the Africa Early Warning Program of the South Africa Institute of Security Studies in Johannesburg. Mr. Cornwell said the problems begin with the Mano River Union countries -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- and appear to be spreading throughout the region.

He said peace in Ivory Coast is far from assured because President Laurent Gbagbo signed the Paris Peace Agreement only to realize later that he had been pressured by the French. He said as South African president Thabo Mbeki suggested at the recent Africa Union meeting in Addis Ababa, some adjustments must be made in the accord.

On the upcoming Nigerian elections, Mr. Cornwell does not anticipate fair play, because he says the country is known for corrupt electoral practices. But he was optimistic about the talks on the Bakassi Peninsula between Nigeria and Cameroon.

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