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Dakar regional summit to focus on West African crises

Oct 24, 2013, 9:49 AM

West African bloc ECOWAShas said it will hold a special summit in Dakar on October 25 focused on the region’s economy and recent political crises.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States said the economy would top the agenda, but also singled out as priorities the situations in Mali and Guinea-Bissau and the threat of post-electoral crisis in Guinea.

The regional bloc will also consider contributing more troops to the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) following a surge in Islamist attacks there.

MINUSMA is meant to eventually reach 12,640 troops and police. At the end of July it had just over 6,000 but Nigerian and some Chadian troops have since withdrawn.

French troops entered Mali in January to halt an advance on the capital Bamako by Al-Qaeda linked Islamist troops and allied Tuareg rebels. It plans to reduce its presence from 3,000 troops today to 1,000 by the end of January 2014.

Legislative elections are due to take place in Mali on November 24, after Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected as president.

Leaders at the summit will also call for calm in Guinea, where the opposition has said it will take its claims of election fraud to the country’s supreme court.

Guinea-Bissau, where ECOWAS also has troops, is another source of concern for the West African leaders.

After a military coup in 2012, a caretaker regime is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on November 24.