Ecowas troops to Bissau in days

2012-05-14 22:27

Abuja - West Africa's regional bloc Ecowas will start deploying troops to Guinea-Bissau by Friday to oversee a reform of the local army and a transition back to civilian rule after an 12 April military coup, Nigeria's defence minister said on Monday.

"We will deploy before the 18th of this month," Mohammed Bello Haliru told reporters on the margins of a meeting of the 15-state bloc's military chiefs in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

Haliru did not give any more details on the mission. Ecowas announced earlier this month its plan to send troops to safeguard a political transition due to lead to elections in 12 months. A final contingent of around 600 troops is expected.

The tiny coastal state of Guinea Bissau has been plagued with coups and unrest since its 1974 independence from Portugal and has become a major hub for Latin American cocaine being shipped into Europe. The United States and others have said that senior army officials are implicated in the trade.

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