ECOWAS ministers to meet on Mali, G/Bissau

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West African ministers will meet Saturday to discuss efforts to return Guinea-Bissau and Mali to democratic rule following recent military coups in both countries, the region’s main bloc of nations said.

Ministers of foreign affairs and defence from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States will attend the emergency meeting in Abidjan, ECOWAS said in a statement on Wednesday.

“An extraordinary session of the ministers of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council will take place on Saturday, 19th May 2012 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast to review the security situation in Guinea-Bissau and Mali,” it said.

“Coming after the just-ended regional chiefs of defence staff meeting in Abuja on 14th May 2012, the meeting which will be attended by ministers of foreign affairs and defence will be updated on the political and security situation in Guinea-Bissau and Mali.”

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West African powerhouse Nigeria said Monday it will deploy troops to Guinea-Bissau this week to shore up security after last month’s coup there.

Regional leaders decided at a summit on April 26 to deploy between 500 and 600 troops from at least four countries — Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast and Senegal — to Guinea-Bissau.

Nigeria said Monday it was awaiting further direction from ECOWAS before deploying troops to Mali, where the bloc has been trying to break a political impasse over who should lead a transitional government.