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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Thursday 11 March 2004

ANGOLA: Troops for peacekeeping in Cote d'Ivoire

JOHANNESBURG, 11 Mar 2004 (IRIN) - Angolan troops are heading to Cote d'Ivoire in their first United Nations peacekeeping mission the government anounced on Thursday.

Angola's Foreign Minister Joao Miranda welcomed the UN's invitation to be part of the 6,240 strong force in the West African country.

Cote d'Ivoire has been split since 2002 after a failed coup attempt against President Laurent Gbagbo. The government controls the southern part of the country, while rebel forces command the north - they are separated by around 4,000 French peacekeepers and 1,000 West African troops.

Although details of the deployment were still unclear, a senior Angolan diplomat said the country would commit its "most experienced" soldiers to the mission.

"To be part of the peacekeeping force is very important for Angola, because it means that we are now playing an important role in the international community. Our army has years of experience and we will use this to assist wherever we can," Angolan ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Maria dos Anjos, told IRIN.

Angola recently emerged from a civil conflict which saw government troops battle rebels for close to three decades. "We have learnt important lessons from three failed peace accords, so we have knowledge of disarmament and some of the difficulties in trying to get parties to share," dos Anjos added.

The UN peacekeeping force in Cote d'Ivoire will be established on 4 April, for an initial period of a year. The West African peacekeeping troops currently stationed there will become part of the UN mission.


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