First ECOWAS troops arrive in Guinea-Bissau | News | DW | 18.05.2012
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First ECOWAS troops arrive in Guinea-Bissau

The first security personnel tasked by ECOWAS with safeguarding the transition back to civilian rule in Guinea-Bissau have arrived.

The advance guard of the 600 strong West African force to oversee the transition back to civilian rule in Guinea-Bissau has arrived. An army coup toppled the civilian government on April 12.

Ansumane Cisse, the top civilian official for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said that 70 soldiers and paramilitaries from Burkina Faso are being deployed "to accompany the country during its one year transitional period."

It was not immediately clear when the remaining soldiers - due to come from Nigeria, Senegal and Togo - would arrive.

Since the coup, ECOWAS has overseen the appointment of an interim president, prime minister and government tasked with managing the one-year transitional period.

There will be a high level ECOWAS meeting in Abidjan to discuss the situation in both Guinea-Bissau and in Mali on Saturday.

The soldiers who ousted Guinea-Bissau's government last month cited the presence of the 600-strong force from Angola as a reason for their coup. The Angolans had been in Guinea-Bissau under the terms of a 2010 defense cooperation agreement between the two countries.

The U.N. Security Council on Friday imposed a travel ban on five leaders of the April 12 military coup and threatened an arms embargo and financial sanctions if Guinea-Bissau does not return to civilian rule.

The 15-member council issued a statement declaring that it "demands that the Military Command takes immediate steps to restore and respect constitutional order, including a democratic electoral process, by ensuring that all soldiers return to the barracks, and that members of the 'Military Command' relinquish their positions of authority."

The council unanimously approved a resolution imposing the travel ban on coup leader General Antonio Injai, and Major General Mamadu Ture, General Estevao Na Mena, Brigadier General Ibraima Camara, and Lieutenant colonel Daba Naualna.

jm/slk (Reuters, AFP)