ECOWAS signs agreement to formalise the deployment of Africa-led UN troops in Mali, praises the troops and the contributing countries
| By Maureen Chigbo | Aug. 12, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE signing ceremony of the memorandum of understanding, MOU, to formalise the deployment of African-led International Support Mission, AFISMA, in Mali, presented an opportunity for ECOWAS to laud both contributing countries and the troops. AFISMA contributing countries namely Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Chad, were part of the regional response to end Mali’s political and security crises. Of all the eight countries only Chad is not a member of ECOWAS.
The MOU was signed between ECOWAS and defence chiefs of troop contributing countries. ECOWAS acknowledged their contributions and for bearing the costs of their contingents, the commanders and men and women of the mission as well as France, which first sent troops to halt the advance of the Malian rebels, and other partners for supporting AFISMA
Kadré Desire Ouédraogo, president of the ECOWAS Commission, who later exchanged the signed MOU with Olusola Obada, Nigeria’s minister of state for defence, the chiefs of Staff and representatives of the AFISMA troops’ contributing countries paid glowing tribute to troops from the region and Chad for their sacrifice for “freedom and peace” in Mali on behalf of the region and Africa. The president acknowledged the critical role played by these countries for contributing troops to AFISMA, whose intervention paved the way for the just-held successful presidential election in Mali.
“We will never forget the enormous sacrifice they made, supported by a brotherly country (Chad) for African solidarity. We are very proud of our men and women on the ground because after six months of a successful mission, no violation of human rights or humanitarian law was reported. For us in ECOWAS, our intervention has been a great success both at the political, military and security levels, going by the “free and fair presidential elections on 28th July,” Ouedraogo said during ceremony at the commission’s Abuja headquarters on Thursday, August 1.
In her remarks, Obada recalled that regional leaders only resorted to troop deployment after exhausting the options for political solution to the Mali crises. “We are happy to say that all the countries rose up to the challenge and we also thank Chad which is not an ECOWAS member state for its contribution,” she said, expressing the hope that peace and stability will return to Mali following the outcome of the presidential election.
Similarly, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, ECOWAS commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, commended the AFISMA troops’ contributing countries for doing the region and Africa proud.
She also lauded the ECOWAS chiefs of defence staff for their tireless efforts, and ECOWAS partners, particularly France, the EU, US and the UK for providing financial and logistical support to AFISMA. Commissioner Suleiman also congratulated the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission for its dynamism and understanding towards the resolution of the Mali crises.
Some 6,000 troops from ECOWAS member States and Chad served under AFISMA between January and June 2013, before it was transformed into a UN mission, MINUSMA on July 1.