21 January 2013

Liberia: Ellen - Liberia Will Send Troops to Mali for Peace Mission

Photo: Claire Soares/IRIN
Chadian soldiers on the move. (file photo)

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has disclosed that the Government of Liberia (GoL) will contribute troops to the African-led International Support Mission In Mali (AFISMA).

The last time Liberia contributed troops toward any peacekeeping initiative was in the 1960s, in the Congo.

The north of Mali has been occupied by mixed gunmen since rebels reinforced with seized weapons from Libya after the 2011 fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime took up arms against the government and people of Mali in 2012.

Separatist rebels who initially launched the Mali onslaught were later sidelined by the Islamist alliance of al Qaeda's North African wing AQIM and home-grown Malian groups Ansar Dine and MUJWA.

Making the disclosure of troops contribution to the Mali peace mission upon arrival from an Extraordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) , which focused primarily on the conflict situation in Mali and other member States, President Johnson-Sirleaf told reporters Saturday, 19 January 2012 at Liberia's only International air port, the Roberts International Airport (RIA) that Liberia has pledged a platoon that will be integrated into one of the AFISMA peacekeeping battalions in Mali.

The Liberian leader indicated that the GoL's decision to send Liberian peacekeeping troops to Mali is due to what she calls showing solidarity to the people of that West African country, and to also show appreciation to Mali and all other countries and peoples who helped Liberia during the country's conflict years.

She divulged that Liberia's offer to contribute troops to the Mali peace mission was gladly received by ECOWAS and the people of Mali, adding that details of the Liberian peacekeeping troops' departure will shortly be finalized by the Liberian ministries of defense and foreign affairs, along with other lined ministries and agencies.

Alongside Liberia, an ECOWAS statement says Benin, Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast have all pledged to contribute troops. Nigeria, Togo and Chad have already starting deploying troops.

Meanwhile, the heads of state and government of ECOWAS have endorsed Major General Shehu Usman Abdulkadir of Nigeria and Brigadier General Yaye Garba of Niger as Force Commander and Deputy Force Commander respectively of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).

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