ECOWAS Holds Up Bulgarian Weapons for Mali in Guinea

World | September 6, 2012, Thursday // 15:45|  views

A photograph made available 22 August 2012 shows Ministers appointed by Malian interim prime minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra (C, partially hidden behind cameraman), meeting for the first time in Bamako, Mali, 21 August 2012. EPA/BGNES

Bulgarian-made weapons destined for Mali which were bought by the country's ousted regime have been held in Guinea since July due to a request from ECOWAS, a regional bloc, Guinea's state minister for defense said Wednesday.

"I don't yet know the nature of these weapons but they are weapons of war originating from Bulgaria," bought by the regime of ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure, said Guinea's state minister Abdoul Kabele Camara, as cited by international media.

"As soon as we were informed of the arrival of this boat, the Guinean president (Alpha Conde) contacted his peers from ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) and it was at that moment that the decision to receive the boat was taken," he explained.

"There were really many containers in the boat and the transport and other costs are being borne by ECOWAS."

Camara said the weapons were kept in Guinea "because, in the meantime, the government changed hands and we didn't know which hands they were going to fall into" if they were sent on to Mali.

Toure was ousted on March 22 after a decade in power, and just six weeks before an election in which he was not taking part.

The coup was carried out by angry soldiers who accused his government of "incompetence" in dealing with a Tuareg rebellion which broke out in January, and completely overwhelmed the ill-equipped army.

As a result of the coup, the Tuareg and armed Islamist groups were able to seize control of the vast north, an area larger than France or Texas.

The jihadists have since sidelined the desert nomad rebels and taken firm control, enforcing strict sharia law in northern towns.

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Tags: ECOWAS, Mali, Guinea, weapons sale, weapons trade, Africa, West Africa, tuareg rebels, tuaregs


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