6 February 2013

Namibia Pledges Solidarity With Mali

Photo: Brahima Ouedraogo/IRIN
Northern Mali has long been a trafficking hub

Windhoek — Namibia has pledged undisclosed monetary support towards the funding of the International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) to provide support to Malian troops fighting to repel Islamist rebels in the north of the country.

"The details of [the monetary pledge would] be communicated to the African Union Commission in due course," Namibia's Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union (AU) Anne Namakau Mutelo said.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba said AU member states "decided to support the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community to repel the rebels and restore the territorial integrity of Mali."

Mutelo reminded that last year Namibia strongly condemned the declaration of the so-called independence of Azawad, the coup d'état that was perpetrated by the rebels and the attempts made by the rebels to dismember the sisterly country of Mali.

"Namibia firmly stands by the African Union principle to reject unconstitutional changes of government and to condemn coups d'états whenever they occur," Mutelo said.

Mutelo made the pledge on behalf of Namibia at the pledging conference on January 29 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. Namibia's neighbour across the Orange River, South Africa, pledged US$10 million (about N$89.4 million at the current exchange rate) to AFISMA. The AU sought to raise US$50 million of the estimated US$460 million needed for AFISMA. The 20th Summit of the AU took place on January 27 to 28.

"Namibia wishes to fully support the efforts made by ECOWAS, the AU and the international community to assist the Malian forces in repelling the rebels, with the aim to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Mali," Mutelo said, adding: "This will enable Mali to restore its constitutional democratic governance as a peaceful and stable country in the region."

South Africa pledged US$10 million for the capacitation of police forces, to the Mali Donor Fund. "South Africa rises on this occasion to add its voice to those of our fellow African brothers and sisters and the international role players in condemning the acts of violence perpetrated against the peoples of Mali," said Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula at the same occasion.

South Africa also sent 10 million Euros (about N$122 million) worth of humanitarian aid to the country. This was in addition to the US$55m (about N$499 million) pledged by the African Union to the donor fund.

"It is hoped that this is the materialisation of Africa's aspiration to stand up against the grave acts of those who opt for blood shedding and political turmoil in trying to satisfy their needs and sometimes, wants," Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Japan has pledged over US$120 million, while the United States pledged US$96 million. "The whole world has gathered here, it is very good for Mali," Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly said during the landmark pledging conference in Addis Ababa.

A woeful lack of cash and logistical resources has hampered AFISMA in its support of Malian troops against Islamist forces who seized swathes of the arid north after a coup last year. So far, just 2 000 African troops have been sent to Mali or neighbouring Niger, with the bulk of the fighting borne by some 2 500 French troops, who launched a military offensive on January 11.

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