This Day (Lagos)

21 November 2012

West Africa: UK Pledges Support As ECOWAS Sends 3,200 Troops to Mali

Abuja — The United Kingdom (UK) has pledged to support the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards the enforcement and restoration of peace in war-torn Mali as Nigeria announced that the sub-regional body has sent a military contingent comprising 3,200 troops to the country.

Special envoy to the British Prime Minister on the Sahel, Mr. Stephen O-Brien, told Minister of State for Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada, during a visit to her office in Abuja to discuss how to resolve the crisis that Britain would do all it could to restore order in Mali.

O-Brien commended Nigeria's leadership role in the sub-region, adding that it was based on this fact that London resolved to contact the country on what could be done to assist in the restoration of peace in Mali, where terror groups have carved out a portion of the country as their territory, with serious implication for regional security.

The special envoy was accompanied by the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Giles Lever and two other officials.

The delegate later told journalists that whatever assistance their country would give would largely be determined by Nigeria.

In her response, Obada said ECOWAS Heads of State have resolved to send troops to restore peace in Mali to ensure security in the affected part of the troubled nation.

She was optimistic that the military intervention was an enforcement of the UN Revolution 2071 as resolved by the ECOWAS Heads of State in the region, adding, "the resolution has been forwarded to the UN through the African Union."

"The menace of terrorism in Northern Mali has been a great concern not only to everyone in the sub-region but also to the international community.

"It's unfortunate how the terrorists are making life difficult in the area and how the proposed election could not be held in order to allow every part of the country to be involved," she added.

The minister commended Britain for its pledge to support the ECOWAS initiative in Mali and solicited more support from the international community to ensure the success of the mission.

She explained that until the crisis is resolved, the possibility of conducting election in the country is nil.

"It would not be proper to hold election in the south and leaving the whole north out of it. If the election would hold, it has to be in the whole country," she stated.

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