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West Africa Pledges Security Boost in Region Before Liberia’s October Vote

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Courtesy:  Bloomberg News

The West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea pledged to increase security in the region before Liberia holds a presidential election in October.

The countries of the Mano River Union, named for the water body that runs between Sierra Leone and Liberia, will provide security forces and helicopters to monitor the frontier between Liberia and Ivory Coast, according to a statement handed to reporters in Monrovia yesterday.

“The failure of one of us to have a strong security network affects all of us,” said Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is seeking a second term in office.

Mercenaries from Liberia have been blamed for some of the violence that followed Ivory Coast’s disputed November election. The return of those fighters back to Liberia could destabilize the country before its own vote, James Victor Gbeho, president of the Economic Community of West African States, said on June 8.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said his country has made “substantial progress” in the western region, near its border with Liberia. “We want to put behind us problems that affect the country,” he told reporters in Monrovia.

As many as 3,000 people were killed in 4 1/2 months of violence that followed the Ivory Coast election, according to the International Criminal Court, which is investigating alleged crimes committed during the conflict.

The Mano River leaders, including Guinea’s Alpha Conde and Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma, also discussed infrastructure issues including seeking funds for roads and developing the West Africa Power Pool to link utility companies and share electricity.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Sesay in Monrovia via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin

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