ECOWAS disagrees with UN Scribe over Mali deployment

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - In a rare diplomatic spat, the regional bloc ECOWAS has openly expressed its disagreement with the UN Secretary General concerning the urgency to deploy an African-led mission to Mali to help the country regain part of its territory seized by Islamists and rebels.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Council of Ministers, which rounded off a three-day meeting in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on Sunday, also disagreed with the UN Scribe over his assertion that the populations of northern Mali, especially the Touaregs, are marginalised, saying that view does not reflect the reality on the ground.

The Council said, in its communique obtained by PANA , that the organisation was "disturbed by the seeming lack of urgency in the recommendations of the (Secretary General's) report with regard to authorization to deploy an African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), as requested by ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) after a series of consultations with all international partners".

It added: "It is the view of ECOWAS that the situation in the north of Mali calls for urgent action and proactive measures to restore the territorial integrity of the country and dismantle the terrorist and criminal networks which have continued to bring untold hardship and human rights abuses and violations not only in Mali but across the ECOWAS region and beyond."

In view of the urgency of the situation, the Council urges the AU to direct the African Group in New York to expedite diplomatic efforts with the UN Secretary General and the Security Council Members on this matter.

"Council further urges the African Union and ECOWAS to expeditiously dispatch a joint high-level mission to the United Nations Secretary General and the Security Council members with a view to reiterating the positions of the Continent on the situation in Mali," it said.

The Council recalled that, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2071, the Strategic Concept and the harmonized Concept of Operations (CONOPS) forwarded to the Secretary General by AU were developed, in collaboration with the Malian Government and in close cooperation with military and security experts from the UN System and other key partners, including France, USA, Canada, the neighbouring countries of Mali and the European Union (EU).

Reflecting its earlier stance to use force to flush out the Islamists and rebels if dialogue fails, ECOWAS said non-intervention in Northern Mali "or any hesitation in the face of the expeditious need to deploy the force may result in the worsening of the humanitarian and security situations in the region and Africa".

"It would be tantamount to failure to assist the Malian people and encourage further entrenchment of the terrorist and criminal groups with far-reaching threats for regional and international security," it said.

The ECOWAS Council of Ministers urges the UN Security Council to take into account, in considering the report, the urgent need of adopting a Resolution authorising the use of force and therefore the deployment of AFISMA in Mali, under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.

In his report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sought to downplay the urgency with which ECOWAS and the AU have taken the issue of force deployment to Mali.

“I am profoundly aware that if a military intervention in the north is not well conceived and executed, it could worsen an already fragile humanitarian situation and also result in severe human rights abuses.

“Fundamental questions on how the force would be led, sustained, trained, equipped and financed remain unanswered. A military operation may be required as a last resort to deal with the most hard-line extremist and criminal elements in the north. However, before that stage is reached, the focus must be on initiating a broad-based and inclusive political dialogue aimed at forging national consensus around a road map for transition,” he wrote in the report that will form the basis of the Security  Council's action on the issue.

On 11 November, ECOWAS leaders approved the deployment of 3,300-strong West African troops to join the African-led force, and adopted the endorsed concept of operation for the force.

The AU followed suit a few days later and then transmitted Strategic Concept and the harmonized Concept of Operations (CONOPS) to the UN Secretary General, forming the basis of his report to the Security Council.
-0- PANA SEG/MA 2Dec2012

02 december 2012 18:00:21

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