ECOWAS mobilises more troops, logistic support for Mali intervention force

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - West African leaders rose from their emergency summit in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on Saturday by calling on all Member States as well as other African nations to urgently contribute troops to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), which is battling armed Islamic groups in Mali.

While commending the countries that have so far contributed troops to AFISMA, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, they welcomed the decision by Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone to contribute to the deployment of AFISMA.

"Authority urges all troop-contributing Member States to make their contingents immediately available to the Force Commander and instructs the President of the Commission to ensure the follow-up," the ECOWAS leaders said in their communique, obtained by PANA in Abidjan.

While welcoming the decision taken by Chad, a non-ECOWAS member state, to send troops to AFISMA, they called on other Member States of the African Union (AU) to also make contributions.

"In this regard, Summit directs the President of the Commission to take the necessary measures to ensure that the other African contingents are taken into account by the AFISMA Command," the communique said.

ECOWAS has committed to deploying 3,500 troops to AFISMA, but the number has yet to be fully deployed.

On funding and logistic support for AFISMA, the West African leaders directed the President of the ECOWAS Commission to convene, in close consultation with the AU, a donor conference for the mobilisation of financial, material and logistical resources for the deployment of AFISMA.

They also urged the UN to provide immediate logistical and financial support for the deployment of AFISMA, pending a UN Security Council decision on a UN logistical support package.

Also, the Summit urges the President of the Commission to take all necessary measures to "mobilise internal resources in support of AFISMA operations", and called on Member States to fulfill their Community Levy obligations as a matter of urgency.

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government has endorsed the appointment of Maj-Gen. Shehu Usman Abdulkadir (Nigeria) and Brig.-Gen Yaye Garba (Niger) as Force Commander and Deputy Force Commander of AFISMA respectively.

"Authority instructs the President of the Commission to intensify consultations with the Government of Mali, the AU and the UN on the speedy establishment of a functional Mission Headquarters to facilitate coordination and deployment of AFISMA," they said.

In a related development, the leaders have granted a "special waiver" to the ECOWAS Commission to recruit staffers to strengthen the human resource and operational capacities of the Office of the Special Representative in Mali, and to ensure the deployment of a robust civilian component within the framework of AFISMA.

The special waiver will also enable the commission to recruit essential staff to the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, "to further enhance its capacities in the face of the new political and security challenges facing the Region".

The leaders commended France for its urgent intervention to assist Mali to halt the advance of armed Islamists groups.

The one-day meeting was attended by the Heads of State and Government of 12 Member States - Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Also in attendance were President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad; French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, representatives of the Germany, Belgium, Burundi, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, UK and US.

The African Union Commission was represented by the High Representative for Mali and Sahel, former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, while ƒthe UN was represented by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa, Mr. Saïd Djinnit. The EU was also represented.
-0- PANA SEG/MA 19Jan2013

19 january 2013 21:17:21




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