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More West African peacekeepers arrive

Country Map - Cote d'lvoire
pdf version at [<a href="http://www.irinnews.org/images/pdf/Cote-dlvoire-government-forces.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.irinnews.org/images/pdf/Cote-dlvoire-government-forces.pdf</a>]
IRIN-West Africa
UN peacekeepers sought for divided Cote d'Ivoire
A first contingent of about 60 paramilitary gendarmes arrived in Cote d'Ivoire on Thursday to beef up the West African peacekeeping force in the country, where rebels occuping the north are shortly due to begin a process of disarmament. Commander Nestor Djido, the head of ground forces of the five-nation peace-keeping force, said the gendarmes from Senegal, Ghana and Benin were the vanguard of a force of 300, that would reinforce the existing multi-national force of 1,300 soldiers. Djido, who is from Benin, said the gendarmes were flown into Abidjan aboard a French military transport plane. The rest would arrive over the next few days or weeks as and when an aircraft was available to go and collect them, he added. The West African peacekeepers from Benin, Togo, Niger, Senegal and Ghana, are working alongside 4,000 French troops to maintain a two-month-old ceasefire between rebel and government forces. This followed the signature of a peace accord in January and the formation a government of national reconciliation in April. Cote d'Ivoire, the most prosperous country in West Africa, erupted into civil war last September following a failed coup. The United Nations estimates that 750,000 people were displaced internally by the fighting and about 500,000 fled to neighbouring countries, particularly Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. Government and rebel military leaders are due to meet again on June 17 to discuss further cooperation. However, Djido said the disarmament process was unlikely to make much headway until the government published a law granting amnesty to those who had taken part in the rebellion. "For things to move quickly, military and political matters must move ahead in step with each other," Djido said, adding that "There are still difficulties with the amnesty law." Prime Minister Seydou Diarra said on May 22 that his government planned to publish an amnesty bill within 10 days, but it has still not yet appeared.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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