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West African leaders plan peacekeeping force to counter ‘coup belt’ reputation

West African leaders said on Sunday they would establish a regional peacekeeping force to intervene in member states to help restore security and
constitutional order in a region that has witnessed several coups in the past two years.

December 5, 2022
By Felix Onuah
5 December 2022

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA, Dec 4 (Reuters) – West African leaders said on
Sunday they would establish a regional peacekeeping force to
intervene in member states to help restore security and
constitutional order in a region that has witnessed several
coups in the past two years.

West and Central Africa has made strides in the past decade
to shed its reputation as a “coup belt”, but the Economic
Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) wants to do more to
boost constitutional government in its member states.

“The leaders of ECOWAS have decided to recalibrate our
security architecture to ensure that we take care of our own
security in the region,” the leaders said in a communique after
an annual summit in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

“The leaders are determined to establish a regional force
that will intervene in the event of need, whether this is in the
area of security, terrorism (or to) … restore constitutional
order in member countries.”

ECOWAS did not give any details of how the force would be
constituted but said defence chiefs would meet next month to
work out how it would operate.

The ECOWAS leaders also expressed concern over the continued
detention of 46 Ivorian soldiers in Mali. They asked Malian
authorities to release the soldiers by the end of this month.

If the soldiers were not released, ECOWAS leaders “reserve
the right and they have taken the decision to take certain
measures but they would appeal and call on the authorities of
Mali to release the soldiers.”

On Guinea, the leaders said the military authorities should
immediately have an inclusive dialogue with all the parties and
politicians, and also expressed serious concern about the
security situation in Burkina Faso, which had a coup in October.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe;
Editing by David Holmes)

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