West African Heads of State meeting at a conference in Senegal have agreed in principle to set up a regional defence force -- but no final decisions have been taken.
West African Heads of State meeting at a conference in Senegal have agreed in principle to set up a regional defence force -- but no final decisions have been taken. The leaders of 16 nations in the area decided to ask their Defence Ministers and army chiefs to review proposals for a force.
SYNOPSIS: The plans were discussed in Dakar at a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States, which embraces English, French and Portuguese speaking countries. President Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal hosted the conference, the fourth held by the organisation.
No specific proposal for a regional force was accepted by the delegates, although Senegal and Togo each put forward their own plans. According of officials at the conference, the decision meant that members of the community do not believe in a large pan-African force. Such a force will be discussed by the Organisation of African unity in July.
Delegates in Dakar felt that only regional forces are a practical proposition for Africa. President Senghor proposed that each country should provide units under a joint command similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Delegates also agreed to open their borders more and to freeze tariffs between member states for two year.