West African foreign ministers are meeting today in the Liberian capital of Monrovia to discuss matters relating to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The meeting comes at a time when peace continues to be elusive in the Ivory Coast region. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the executive secretary of ECOWAS, spoke with English to Africa reporter James Butty from Monrovia about the purpose of today?s meeting.
?The significance of this meeting today here in Monrovia is to have a regular meeting of ECOWAS not devoted to Liberia, not here to mediate a conflict, but to demonstrate that, yes, Liberia is back taking its rightful place along other members of the ECOWAS community to deliberate on the general issues of concern to ECOWAS.?
Chambas also said the meeting being held in Monrovia is a gesture of ECOWAS? support to the Liberian people and their government. The organization encourages them to persist in their goals of building peace, pursuing reconciliation, and redeveloping a great country.
In addition, Chambas said the ministers will discuss the conflict in the Ivory Coast.
?Cote d?Ivoire remains at this point our major preoccupation. What we would like to see commence immediately in that country are the processes of citizen identification, and also the disarmament, demobilization, re-insertion of the irregular forces must commence immediately so that that country can be reunited, so that preparations can start to lead us to election later this year.?
Chambas says ECOWAS would like United Nations peacekeepers to remain in Liberia until a substantial portion of the Liberian army is trained.