21 January 2013
The crisis in Mali is deepening and getting ugly. French troops and the army of neighbouring countries are tightening the noose around the Al-Qaeda sponsored rebel militia in the north of the country.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are said to be trapped in communities controlled by the rebels. Help cannot come too soon.
French military jets are pounding vast areas occupied by the rebels, who themselves are fighting against a military junta that seized power from a legitimate government in Mali.
And as the humanitarian disaster unfolds in the north of the country, a coherent, co-ordinated and concerted international effort, aimed at bringing the crisis to an end is nowhere in sight.
A second term President Obama of America has no appetite for taking US soldiers into another war front, as he begins to implement a controlled withdrawal of his troops from Afghanistan. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a huge toll on America’s public finance.
The expectation from the UN and the international community is that African countries will take front-line and combat responsibility, in order to help the Malian forces defeat the rebels.
This demand is not going to be easy for cash-strapped countries in Sub-Sahara Africa, many of which are either recovering from their own wars, or have downsized their military in response to IMF conditionalities for cuts in public spending.
But at the summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which took place on 19 January 2013, in Abidjan, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the consensus is that “Mali must be helped”.
Chaired by Alassane Ouattara – President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Chairman of the ECOWAS, several Heads of State and Government attended the Summit:
Thomas Boni YAYI, President of the Republic of Benin; Blaise COMPAORE, President of Burkina Faso; John Dramani MAHAMA, President of the Republic of Ghana; Alpha CONDE, President of the Republic of Guinea; Manuel Serifo NHAMAJO, Interim President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia; Dioncounda TRAORE, Interim President of the Republic of Mali; Mahamadou ISSOUFOU, President of the Republic of Niger; Goodluck Ebele JONATHAN, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Macky SALL, President of the Republic of Senegal; Ernest Bai KOROMA, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; Susan WAFFA-OGOO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of The Gambia; Charles Agba KONDI, Minister of Health of the Togolese Republic; Francisco Pereira DA VEIGA, Ambassador of the Republic of Cape Verde to Coté d’Ivoire; Idriss Deby ITNO, President of the Republic of Chad.
In attendance was Laurent FABIUS, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, who was at the meeting as “a special guest”.
Germany, Belgium; Burundi; Canada; Egypt; Germany; Italy; Libya; Mauritania; Morocco; South Africa; Spain; Tunisia; United Kingdom and United States of America, were also at the meeting as observer nations.
“The Heads of State and Government expressed deep concern about the gravity of the security situation provoked by the entrenchment of separatist movements and terrorist and criminal networks in the north of Mali, and the debilitating impacts of their activities on the unity and territorial integrity of the country, as well as on regional and international peace and security.
“After careful deliberations, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their determination to assist Mali in the resolution of its security and institutional crisis within the framework of the norms and principles underpinning Community Protocols.
“To this end, the Heads of State and Government endorsed the main recommendations contained in the various reports and took the following specific Decisions:
“The Heads of State and Government express their deep gratitude to France for launching operations in Mali, within the framework of respect for the sovereignty of Mali and the International legality, to halt the advance of the terrorist and extremist groups, thus paving the way for the implementation of Resolution 2085 (2012).
“Authority welcomes the adoption of Resolution 2085 by the UN Security Council on 20 December 2012, congratulates the members of the Council on the achievement, and underscores the need for the expeditious implementation of the Resolution.
“Authority congratulates Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo on the speed with which they have prepositioned their contingents for urgent deployment in Mali. It welcomes the decision taken 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.
“Summit authorizes AFISMA contingents to engage in operations with their organic units, and the formation of reserve units from the troops pledged by Member States but not immediately deployed under AFISMA.
“The Heads of State and Government endorses the appointment of Major General Shehu Usman Abdul kadir (Nigeria) and Brigadier General 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.
“Summit welcomes the decision taken by Chad to expedite the deployment of troops in support of the AFISMA operations and calls upon other Member States of the African Union 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.
“Authority directs the President of the Commission to expedite high-level consultations with the Government of Mali, the AU and UN towards the establishment of a Joint Coordination Mechanism on Resolution 2085 to facilitate regular consultations on political leadership, resource mobilization, reporting, monitoring and evaluation.
“Authority requests the United Nations to provide immediate logistical and financial support for the deployment of AFISMA pending a UN Security Council decision on a UN logistical support package, consistent with UNSC Resolution 2085 (2012), and bearing in mind the unfolding situation on the ground in Mali that necessitated the accelerated deployment of AFISMA.
“In that regard, Authority welcomes the steps already taken by the UN Secretary-General to present to the UNSC, in the coming days, options on the logistical support that could be provided to AFISMA.
“Authority instructs the President of the Commission to initiate all necessary actions to convene, in close consultation with the AU, a donor conference for the mobilization of financial, material and logistical resources for the deployment of AFISMA.
“Authority instructs the President of the Commission to take all necessary measures to mobilize internal resources in support of AFISMA operations. In this regard, Authority calls on all Member States to fulfil their Community Levy obligations as a matter of urgency, and directs the President of the Commission to ensure a follow-up. Authority also expresses gratitude to the Government of Nigeria for the financial assistance to Mali.
“The Heads of State and Government authorize the ECOWAS Commission to use a special dispensation outside the normal ECOWAS procedures in order to accelerate the procurement of logistical resources, other goods and services, with respect to the deployment of AFISMA.
“Authority instructs the President of the Commission to take necessary and urgent steps 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.
“Consequently, Authority approves a special waiver to the Commission for the recruitment of additional staff. Authority also instructs the President of the Commission to apply the same dispensation for the recruitment of 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.
“Authority stresses the need for the ECOWAS Standby Force to be strengthened and prepositioned for rapid deployment to face challenges that could arise in the region.
“The Heads of State and Government also express gratitude to international partners for the timely intervention to support the Government of Mali to defend its territorial integrity within the framework of Resolution 2085.
“Summit welcomes the announcement by international partners, particularly the European Union and the United States of America, to provide urgent logistical and financial assistance in support of AFISMA operations.
“Summit calls on humanitarian agencies and Partners to intensify assistance to Mali and the neighbouring countries to meet the humanitarian consequences of the deployment, including assistance to affected populations, protection of humanitarian corridors/spaces, and actors. Summit calls on the Partners to coordinate their efforts to facilitate the implementation of the humanitarian aspects of Resolution 2085.
“With regard to the institutional crisis facing Mali, Authority reiterates its unflinching support to the on-going transition, and to the Interim Transitional authorities, particularly the Interim President and Prime Minister.
“Authority urges the President to take all necessary measures to chart a transitional roadmap and establish mechanisms for its implementation, including preparations for an inclusive, free, fair and transparent electoral process, national dialogue, and the extension of state authority throughout the territory of Mali.
“Authority commends President Dioncounda Traoré for his courage and resilience in the face of adversity and challenges in his country.
“The Heads of State and Government reaffirm its determination to take all appropriate measures to strengthen the Transition.
“The Heads of State and Government express gratitude to the Mediator, H.E. Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, and the Associate Mediator, H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for their sterling mediation efforts, and encourage them to persevere in their undertaking until the resolution of the institutional and security crises in Mali.
“On the issue of the political and security challenges in Guinea Bissau, Authority expresses its commitment to accompany the country in accomplishing the tasks of the transitional process, including the conduct of urgent multi-sectoral reforms and the holding of inclusive, free, fair and transparent elections in the course of the transition.
“Authority welcomes the accession of all political parties in Guinea Bissau to the Transitional Pact, including the PAIGC, and commends them for their efforts in deepening internal dialogue.
“Authority welcomes the setting up of the Parliamentary Commission within the People’s National Assembly to review the transitional roadmap with a view to determining a technically feasible date for the holding of the next Presidential and Legislative elections.
“Authority directs the President of the Commission to take all appropriate measures to expedite action on the commencement of the implementation of the Defence and Security Sector Reform Programme (DSSRP), and to this end welcomes the upcoming high-level consultations in Abuja between the ECOWAS Commission and the Government of Guinea Bissau on the modalities for the take-off of the programme.
“Summit takes note of the Joint Assessment Mission undertaken by ECOWAS, the CPLP, the AU, the UN and the EU in December 2012, and welcomes the new spirit of cooperation among the Stakeholders.
“The Heads of State and Government reiterate the call on the AU to urgently consider the recognition of the on-going transition and the lifting of sanctions against Guinea Bissau. They further urged the UN, CPLP, the EU and other international partners to resume cooperation with Guinea Bissau and to support efforts aimed at ensuring a more inclusive transition in the country.
“Authority decides to extend further financial support to the Government of Guinea Bissau to assist in the running of government.
“Authority expresses gratitude to the troop-contributing Member-States to ECOMIB, and commends ECOMIB troops for their efforts at ensuring security in Guinea Bissau. Authority approves the creation of a reserve force of 140 troops in support of ECOMIB.
“Summit directs the Commission to expedite action on strengthening the capacities of the Office of the Special Representative in Guinea Bissau in order to facilitate the effective discharge of its additional responsibilities.
“Authority expresses deep appreciation to H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of the Regional Contact Group on Guinea Bissau, and Member States of the RCG-GB, for their assistance to Guinea Bissau and their commitment to ensuring a successful inclusive transition.
“Authority decides to remain seized by the matter of Mali and Guinea Bissau.”