Addis Ababa — The African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is in Mali for a meeting aimed at resolving the Malian crisis.
The meeting will be held on the 19th of October in Bamako and will include the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and other stakeholders. It will discuss the current political challenges facing Mali including the roadmap for restoration of democracy and dealing with the threat posed by attempts aimed at secession.
Before leaving Addis Ababa, Dr Dlamini Zuma explained the need for the African Union to be involved in the meeting. "The Malian crisis is a crisis that goes beyond the region and it has a potential of spreading to the whole region if it is not managed; and even to the rest of the continent. So it's a very important issue that we must get our teeth into... We had a discussion when I was in New York (in September) with the Malians, together with the AUC Commissioner for Peace and Security, and we agreed that the crisis is such that the African Union must play a more active role."
The New York meeting, which was held on the margins of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, was hosted by the Secretary General of the UN Mr. Ban Ki Moon, who had invited all the interested parties.
ECOWAS, the regional body for West Africa has hitherto been the most engaged in efforts to resolve the Malian crisis.
Dr. Dlamini Zuma further added that the Malian situation is a complex matter because it has a number of elements to it; including the fact that there was a coup in the country. This means that efforts have to be deployed to return the country to democracy. There is also the issue of the territorial integrity of Mali which is under threat, and this needs to be discussed with a view to ensuring that the country's integrity ceases to be under threat. In addition, some people have been taken as hostages; and there are reports of drug trafficking, the AUC Chairperson added.
Resolving the Malian crisis as well as other conflict situations in Africa is a top priority for the Commission Chairperson who mentioned in her installation speech on 15 October that: "We will spare no efforts to try and resolve the conflict in Mali and the Sahel region. This crisis has the potential to spread across the region and even the continent. We shall be working closely with the United Nations Security Council and of course with the regional organisation ECOWAS, who has been dealing with the matter up to now."