West African leaders have agreed to deploy 3,200 international stabilization force in Mali to flush out Islamist rebels terrorizing the sisterly country. The leaders reached the decision Sunday, November 11, 2012 in an Extraordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held in Abuja, Nigeria with a renewed commitment to finding timely resolution to the crises in both Mali and Guinea Bissau.
According to a release, Liberia's Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Summit. ECOWAS Authority adopted the harmonized Concept of Operations for the deployment of an African-led international Stabilization Force in Mali and requested the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to endorse the Concept and ensure its transmission to the United Nations Security Council by November 15, 2012.
The Concept of Operations, which was crafted by the Chiefs of Defense Staff of ECOWAS and endorsed by the Summit, provides for a Stabilization Force mainly drawn from member countries with a one-year intervention mandate.
Accordingly, ECOWAS has urged the UN Security Council to authorize the deployment of the international military force in Mali in conformity with Article 7 of the UN Charter.
At the same time, the ECOWAS Authority has reiterated its decision that neither the Interim President, the Prime Minister nor other members of the Malian Transitional Government would be allowed to contest in the next presidential elections, a roadmap of which is to be crafted within a period of fifteen days by the Malian Interim Government.
It urged the Transitional Authorities in Mali to expedite actions on the establishment of a National Committee on Negotiations to spearhead the ECOWAS Mediator on Mali under the leadership of President Blaise Campraore.
The work of the NCN is to dialogue among all internal stakeholders in the Transition and also with armed groups not involved with terrorist and criminal activities and who accept, without condition, the unity and territorial integrity of the Malian State as well as the secular nature of the State.
Already, two rebel movements in the North of Mali, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Ansar Dine, have expressed willingness to dialogue. The ECOWAS Authority reiterated that dialogue remains the preferred option for the resolution of the political crisis in Mali, but noted that regarding the security situation, recourse to force may be indispensable in order to dismantle terrorist and transnational criminal networks that pose a threat to international peace and security.
It called on the African Union to recognize the Transitional Government in Guinea Bissau which was established a few months ago, urging the AU to suspend the sanctions imposed on Guinea Bissau as an encouragement to the Transitional Authorities in recognition of the progress the country continues to make towards forging a more inclusive transitional government.
The ECOWAS Authority instructed the ECOWAS Commission to expedite action on the joint assessment mission to Guinea Bissau by ECOWAS, AU, EU, CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language People), and the UN, as the regional body considers such a mission as an important process in consensus building at the international level.