Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) says a military force, to be deployed to Mali, could hit the ground within weeks if the country’s interim President, Diancounda Traore, formally requests for security reinforcement from the UN Security Council.
AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramantane Lamamra, said Monday the request for the deployment of the military force has been sent by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The move to deploy international force to Mali follows urgent appeals by African leaders for an international engagement in Mali, to stop a regional security crisis.
Outgoing AU Commission President Jean Ping, had told continental leaders that international intervention was urgently required in Mali to stop armed rebel movements and their terrorist allies from extended their operations from East Africa to West Africa.
Echoing Ping's remarks, Lamamra said: “We have credible intelligence that Al Shabaab is in Northern Mali. It emphasizes the need to have the governments work together. It is clear jihadists are linked to this.”
Lamamra said a new military concept of operations being considered by a team of top African Chiefs of Staff, would be presented to the UN Security Council for action.
He said a decision on the nature of the force could be reached within a matter of weeks, not exceeding a month.
“There would be division of labour,” Lamamra said when asked whether the AU planned to lead the mission being fronted by ECOWAS or was likely to leave the matter entirely at the Security Council’s discretion.
The African leaders said the Boko Haram movement, currently responsible for a security mayhem in northern Nigeria, is also active in the Malian conflict.
African leaders, who met at the highest level of the heads of state and government a day before their formal meeting on continental security, called for a list of individuals to be available for tougher sanctions to be considered, including a group of military commanders for interfering with the state.
“We would like to have the unity government in place before the President makes a formal request. The official request is needed but the ECOWAS request has been made,” he said.
The AU is considering the use of some friendly forces that denounce terrorism and separation of the country to be used as a stabilizing force in the region.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 16July2012