8 November 2012

West Africa: Minister Defends Nigeria, Ecowas' Intervention in Mali

Photo: RFI/Moussa Kaka
Members of Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa approach Timbuktu. (file photo)

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, said Wednesday that Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will intervene in Mali because of the security challenge arising from the Boko Haram insurgency.

He also said there was no going back in implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2071 for military and other intervention and assistance to Mali.

Ashiru made the disclosures on the current situation in the Sahel and West Africa in a paper presented at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos.

In the paper, the minister said Nigeria will however not accept the partition of Mali or imposition of an Islamic state.

He said: "One of the major challenges facing Nigeria today was security. The menace of Boko Haram and its links to other terrorist organisations in Africa such as Al-Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM) has demonstrated to us in the Nigeria the nexus between domestic situation and foreign policy.

"It has shown that peace and security of the sub-region is tied to peace and stability in Nigeria. This is why the Federal Government has taken a keen interest in the situation in West Africa beginning with Nigeria's historic engagements in the restoration of peace in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and now, Mali.

"Neither Nigeria nor ECOWAS has jettisoned the principle of unconstitutional change of Government. On the country, it was that same principle that informed our unequivocal condemnation of the coup and our intervention is ensuring that the military junta in Bamako handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Diancounda Traore as the Interim President under the Framework Agreement that was first hammered out in Abuja under my watch.

"ECOWAS has continued to push for the implementation of the Peace Agreement, despite continued challenges. Indeed, an Extra-ordinary Summit of ECOWAS on Mali is scheduled to hold in Abuja in the next few days.

"This is coming on the heels of the adoption of the UNSC Resolution (2071), which has provided the needed backing for military and other intervention and assistance to Mali. Let me assure this audience that ECOWAS is working hard to respond adequately to this Resolution.

"In the same vein, the so-called serious dispute between ECOWAS and Bamako appears to have been exaggerated. Mali had since formally requested ECOWAS to deploy its forces to Northern Mali.

"The issue of support for the military junta by the Malian people had also been raised, but this is no reason to encourage military, unconstitutional change of government, which the AU had adopted as a sacred principle."

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