The executive secretary of the West Africa regional union, ECOWAS, is expressing optimism over the Ivory Coast peace negotiations. Mohammed Chambas says despite the suspension of the talks in Lome, Togo, the rebels tell him they’re ready to resume discussions with the government.
Delegates are trying to end a seven-week-old rebellion. The rebels walked out this past weekend, after the discovery of the body of Dacourt Tabley in Abidjan Friday. Mr. Tabley, a brother of a senior rebel official, was thought to have been killed by government forces.
From Lome, Dr. Chambas told English to Africa reporter Richard Kotey that the rebels asked for a few days mourn the death of Mr. Tabley and to consult with their people on the current stage of the peace process. Dr. Chamblas dismissed allegations that the suspension indicated that the talks are about to break up. He said this kind of negotiation is not easy, but with goodwill on both sides, there will be a breakthrough.
Dr. Chambas said failure of the negotiations could be a major setback for ECOWAS. He said the military wing of the organization, ECOMOG, has been assembled and very soon will be deployed in the Ivory Coast. He said contrary to what has been reported, Nigeria is participating in ECOMOG with logistics, like the medical, signal and communication corps, but not with ground troops.
Nigeria did send military aircraft to Ivory Coast shortly after the start of the rebellion, but the Ivory Coast government decided not to use them and they returned home.