17 June 2012

ECOWAS Seeks UN Support in Resolving Mali Crisis

Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Peacekeepers (file photos).

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New York - America — The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadre Desire Ouedraogo has called on the United Nations Security Council to endorse regional initiatives at resolving the crisis in Mali, especially the plan to deploy an ECOWAS Standby Force in the country.

Addressing the Council in New York on Friday 15th June 2012, on behalf of the Chairman of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, President Ouedraogo explained that the "viability of the Malian State is on the line," while regional, continental and international stability and security are also threatened by the political situation following the recent coup d'état and the separatist rebellion in north of the country. "The security and humanitarian implications of the crisis in Mali appeal to our common responsibility and our commitment to maintain international peace and security," he affirmed. "The situation demands a rapid and effective coordinated international action to meet the challenges, including actions to:  Create the necessary conditions to allow the transitional institutions to fully carry out their responsibilities while scrupulously respecting fundamental freedoms; and  Assist Mali in restoring its authority and regaining its unity and territorial integrity.

President Ouedraogo said the ECOWAS initiative involves helping to secure the transitional institutions and the liberation of the cities under siege, as well as the fight against established terrorist and criminal networks. Given that "the demoralized, disintegrated and poorly equipped Malian army is not in a position to face these challenges alone," and the need to have a stable and legitimate government in Bamako that can carry out government business, he said the deployment of a force to Mali, under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter is essential. "It is critical not only to improve our collective security, but also to help secure the transition and the restoration of the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country, as well as to create the necessary conditions for humanitarian assistance and the protection of human rights," the ECOWAS chief added. The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at their summit of 27th March 2012 directed that the ECOWAS Standby Force be put in readiness for deployment in Mali to assist in resolving the crisis.

In furtherance of this directive, President Ouedraogo told the Council, that in this regard, "ECOWAS is seeking the support of the International Community through Council for the regional and continental efforts aimed at mobilizing and coordinating international action to help resolve the double crisis in Mali." Specifically, he said the decision to deploy troops in Mali, is in conformity with the mandate adopted by the Mediation and Security Council on 12th April 2012 and endorsed by the ECOWAS Chairman on behalf of the Authority on 16th April 2012. In this regard, the President said "ECOWAS Member States have already pledged to provide 3000 men, who will certainly be strengthened through the mobilization of additional troops at the continental level." He also informed Council that the Committee of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff, together with experts and military planners from the UN, European Union (EU), and bilateral partners, are currently in Abidjan carrying out a technical assessment and fine-tuning of the strategy and the operational plan of the Mission with a view to ensuring a successful outcome.

According to the President the success of the regional initiative on Mali will urgently require the involvement of the entire International Community beginning with the Resolution of the Security Council, and the collaboration between ECOWAS, the African Union (AU), UN core countries and other development partners. Following the President's address, the Security Council commended all the initiatives undertaken by ECOWAS on the Mali crisis and requested detailed information on the planning and operationalization. It also called for effective coordination between ECOWAS, AU, UN and core countries, and offered strong political support for the initiative. President Ouedraogo is leading a high-level regional delegation to New York, including Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Honourable Djibril assole, representing the ECOWAS Mediator in Mali, Nigeria's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nurudeen Muhammad, Minister of Defence for Cote d'Ivoire, Honourable Paul Koffi Koffi, Benin Republic Foreign Minister, Honourable Bako Arifari, and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman. On the eve of his address to the Security Council the President held consultations with ECOWAS and AU Ambassador Groups at the UN to brief them on the ECOWAS position and strategy in Mali

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