ECOWAS, or the Economic Community Of West African States, said on Thursday that a force of up to 3,000 soldiers will be deployed immediately to Mali, and another 500 to 600 will be sent to Guinea-Bissau, according to the Angola Press.
Responding to the perceived instability following coup d'etats in both countries, ECOWAS head and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said after a summit in Abidjan that the moves were designed to prevent our sub-region from giving into terrorism and transnational criminality.
Mali's military leaders have already set up a transitional government and named a new civilian president, but the chaos of the coup exacerbated a Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country -- indeed, rebels have already seized control of a swath of territory the size of France. Additionally, ECOWAS commission chief Desire Kadre Ouedraogo said that while Mali has a new president, the junta still retains autocratic leanings, according to the AFP.
The heads of state and of government decided to take all the necessary measures in order to assist Mali in the re-establishment of its unity and of its territorial integrity, ECOWAS said in a statement.
To this effect the heads of state and of government instructed the commission to begin with immediate effect the deployment of the stand-by force of ECOWAS conforming to the approved mandate.
Guinea-Bissau's Military Command has also announced plans to set-up a civilian government, but the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union rejected the proposal because elections wouldn't be held for at least two years, Reuters reported.
To try to get Guinea-Bissau's junta to return to barracks, ECOWAS is also threatening to impose targeted sanctions on military leaders within 72 hours if they fail to meet the bloc's demands, which include a transition plan and the immediate release of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who was detained following the coup.
ECOWAS is also trying to help with security through humanitarian ways. The bloc has given $4.5 million in aid to Burkina Faso, Mali and also Niger to help with cope with refugees who fleeing the rebellion and violence in Mali, according to the AllAfrica news agency. Mali will receive $3 million while Niger and Burkina Faso will get $800,000 and $700,000, respectively.