A Long Way to Go

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The Yamoussoukro Meeting
The Yamoussoukro Meeting

Mali’s crisis is far from over despite the intervention of France and Chad and the routing of rebel groups from Bamako and Timbucktu

|  By Maureen Chigbo  |  Apr. 8, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

Cross-section of participants at the Yamoussoukro meeting
Cross-section of participants at the Yamoussoukro meeting

DESPITE the intervention of France, Chad and the African-led international mission in Mali, AFISMA, it is still a long way to go in stopping the crisis from destabilising the region. Mali is in the grip of an unprecedented political crisis, one of the most serious since the landlocked West African country gained independence from France in 1960.

It was hit by a coup in March 2012 and a northern rebellion that has caused an alarm around the world. Thousands have died and many more displaced since the five main Islamists groups in Mali namely Ansar Dine, Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, Mujao, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, the Signed-in-Blood Battalion and the Islamic Movement for Azawad, IMA, waged war on the country.

Generals at the meeting
Generals at the meeting

These must be worrying General Soumaila Babayoko, the chairman of ECOWAS committee of chiefs of defence staff, CCDS, when he said, at the extraordinary meeting of the CCDS in Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian administrative capital on Monday, March 25, that the interventionist forces still have a long way to go. The meeting called for intensified and sustained international support to rid Mali of the dangerous scourge of terrorism and criminality threatening not only the country but the region and the rest of the world.

The meeting discussed the transformation of the African-led AFISMA into a UN Peace Operation. Babayoko noted that while a measure of progress had been recorded through the intervention of France and Chad complemented by the regional forces, there was still a long way to go to prevent the destabilisation of the region.

Salamatu Hussaini
Salamatu Hussaini

Bakoyoko, Cote d’Ivoire’s chief of defence staff, said the momentum generated by the international mobilisation that resulted in last December’s UN Security Council Resolution 2085, backing the regional efforts for military intervention in Mali should be sustained for the rehatting of AFISMA into a UN operation coupled with accelerated deployment to checkmate the terrorist insurgents in northern Mali.

Also, speaking, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, ECOWAS commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, said the Yamoussoukro meeting would consider the outcome of the March 11 – 12 meeting in Bamako between a UN team and AFISMA Headquarters on the standard of operations and logistics support needed under a UN deployment of AFISMA under a revised Concept of Operations, CONOPS.

On behalf of the ECOWAS Commission, the commissioner, represented by General Hassan Lai, chief of staff of ECOWAS Standby Force, commended France, the US, EU, the African Union and the UN for their understanding and continued support towards the resolution of the security situation in Mali.

Nigerian representative (right), and others at the Yamoussoukro meeting
Nigerian representative (right), and others at the Yamoussoukro meeting

Declaring the meeting open, General Paul Kofi Kofi, Cote d’Ivoire’s defence minister, said the Yamoussoukro CCDS extraordinary meeting marked a turning point in efforts at resolving the Mali crisis.

Thanking the partners and collaborators including the troop contributing countries and the troops on the field, the minister noted that the job to save Mali from  terrorists and other criminals operating under the guise of religion was yet to be completed.

Those who attended the two-day meeting included General Abdou Lat Gueye,  military adviser to the UN on peace keeping, General Gregoire De Saint Quentin, commander of the French SERVAL operation in Mali, General Brahim Sehid  Mahamat, the Chadian chief of defence staff, and Aboudou Chaka Toure, ECOWAS special representative in Mali among others. Also in attendance were commanders of AFISMA and the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau. The meeting made recommendations to ECOWAS authorities towards the realisation of AFISMA transformation into a UN field operation.

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