The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been preparing a 1,500-strong regional peacekeeping force, but they are already running into problems. The first 100 troops had been due to land on 30 December, with most of the units expected in-country around 10 January 2003. However, there was the last minute change was due to "communication difficulties," the first batch of 50 to 60 troops will not arrive until 3 January.
There have been other organizational hang-ups. Despite Gambia's willingness to provide an infantry company, some of the Francophone members have showed reluctance to have the former English colony's troops on the job. French foot-dragging has irritated Senegal, but the Senegalese simply put 650 of their troops on alert for Ivory Coast duty anyway.
A bold move has to be made by someone soon, or the rebels will wind up getting into a serious fight with the French.
The French peacekeepers' presence in the Ivory Coast cannot last forever and the longer the crisis lasts, the greater the hatred becomes between the different ethnic groups along the cease-fire line. Like a cop involved in a domestic dispute, the French are turning from the problem-solvers to the focus of that hatred. Putting an all-African peacekeeping force between the combatants will allow the diplomats more time to work out their issues, but the question remains "are the Africans up to the job"?