Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - ECOWAS ministers have endorsed the proposed transformation of the African-led International Mission in Mali (AFISMA) into a UN peacekeeping operation.
At the end of their emergency session in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Tuesday, the ministers, who met under the Mediation and Security Council have, also recommended that ECOWAS collaborate with the African Union (AU) to support the Malian government’s request in this regard.
They also recommended that regional leaders urge the ECOWAS Commission and the AU to address a "formal request to the UN to take steps towards the transition of AFISMA to a UN peacekeeping operation as soon as conditions permit and under the appropriate mandate.”
They enjoined the ECOWAS Commission to work with the AU to ensure that the "immediate and urgent needs of the African-led International Mission in Mali (AFISMA) are met without delay, including the immediate deployment of additional troops and the provision of their logistic
needs," in the spirit of the recommendations of the Chairman of the region’s Chief of Defence Staff.
The meeting, which was attended by regional ministers of foreign affairs and defence, praised AFISMA troops’ contributing countries, particularly Chad, for the accelerated deployment of their contingents and for the sacrifices of their troops.
It also welcomed the ongoing initiatives by ECOWAS, the AU and other partners to quickly deploy human rights observers to the conflict zone and inculcate human rights ethos in AFISMA personnel, saying the personnel should "scrupulously uphold human rights and international humanitarian law in their operations."
The meeting, called to review developments in Mali and Guinea-Bissau and propose ways to respond to identified challenges, welcomed the 29 January 2013 adoption of a transition road map by Mali’s National Assembly, and urged the transition authorities and other stakeholders to ensure expeditious implementation of the road map.
To respond to the dynamics of the evolving situation in the country, the ministers recommended the extension of the mandate of the transitional and constitutional organs to the end of the transition and urged competent authorities in the country to initiate the "necessary constitutional process” for the extension.
The Council also urged the ECOWAS Commission to extend electoral assistance to the country in preparation for the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections, in collaboration with the AU, UN and other partners.
On Guinea-Bissau, the ministers recommended that the country's Parliamentary Committee and the People's National Assembly adopt, as soon as possible, a new and technically feasible road map for the preparation and conduct of free, fair and transparent Presidential and Legislative elections in 2013, while the transition period should be extended to 31 Dec., 2013.
They also adopted the regional counter-terrorism strategy and implementation plan as well as its political declaration against terrorism.
Their recommendations will be considered by the ECOWAS heads of state and government, who are due to begin a two-day summit in Abidjan Wednesday.
-0- PANA SEG 27Feb2013