31 January 2013

Deployment of Military Contingents to Mali Soon to Be Completed

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Bamako - Mali — The President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo has expressed confidence that the deployment of all military contingents pledged by various African countries to assist Mali in countering terrorist groups in that country will soon be completed.

"We have held talks with the Headquarters of AFISMA (the International Support Mission in Mali) and everything is gradually falling into place. I can assure you that, in the coming days, all the contingents will be on ground," the President affirmed at a press briefing during his one-day visit to Bamako from Abidjan on 21st January 2013.

President Ouédraogo and his delegation, which included the Ivorian Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Koffi Diby and his Defence and African Integration counterpart, who is also Chairman of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff, General Soumaila Bakayako, were received at the Bamako airport by the Malian Minister of Defence and the AFISMA Commander, Major General Abdulkadir Shehu of Nigeria.

The ECOWAS delegation later visited the French base where they were briefed by Colonel Fagué, the Coordinator of Operation Serval. The team also visited the Sénou-Bamako air-base hosting the Nigerian contingent, where Brigadier-General Ash Saad reaffirmed the readiness of the troops to support Mali in containing the threat of the terrorists. Togo and Benin contingents also received the ECOWAS delegation at the Gendarmerie Training School in Bamako, as did the Senegalese contingent at the Peacekeeping School, under the leadership of Commander Colonel Guirane Ndiaye.

President Ouédraogo and the Ivorian Foreign Minister conveyed to the different continents, the commendations and support of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government who recently held an extraordinary summit in Abidjan on Mali. The President told the troops that the visit was also to interact with them in order to understand the conditions under which they operate and how to provide them with maximum support, and ensure the success of the mission. "I must say that we are impressed by the level professionalism in the discharge of your duties.

We wish to encourage you and we have promised to brief ECOWAS authorities for steps to be taken with the African Union and the international community so that, together, we can achieve final victory," he affirmed. For his part, Minister Diby said: "We are in Bamako, first to convey the support of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State to the Interim President, his Government and the People of Mali, and to assure them that they have the support of the Authority and their ECOWAS brothers."

The delegation, which was later received by the interim President, His Excellency Dioncounda Traoré, also visited Badalabougou for the inauguration of the building of the ECOWAS Special Representation in Mali. The building was provided by Mali under the Headquarters Agreement signed between the country and ECOWAS. The ECOWAS Special Representative, Mr. Cheaka Aboudou Touré, flanked by his staff, thanked the Malian authorities for the gesture, and also commended the presence of a number of envoys accredited to Bamako, at the ceremony, including the Ambassadors of France, Morocco, Bénin, Saudi Arabia, Denmark and Niger.

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