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ECOWAS reacts to Ivory Coast's Unrest - 2002-09-26

English to Africa reporter Richard Kotey spoke with Adrien Diop, director of communication and spokesperson of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States. She said ECOWAS will take a number of steps, including holding an extraordinary summit to discuss how to resolve the crisis. She said the action by Nigeria, France and the United States in sending troops to the country was not an ECOWAS decision but was reached on the basis of bilateral agreements. Ms. Diop said the troops from the United States and France are there not to intervene in the crisis but to help to protect and evacuate their citizens. She said Ivory Coast is a sovereign country and must have approved the presence of these foreign troops. Ms. Diop said she does not think the conflict is turning into a civil war but it is still serious. She said the executive secretary of the organization, Dr. Mohammed Chambas, is in Ivory Coast holding talks with President Laurent Gbagbo and other officials to see how the conflict can be resolved. Ms. Diop said so far, ECOMOG, the military wing of ECOWAS, has not been sent to the country for peacekeeping operations. She said they will be if and when the crisis escalates.