Abuja-Nigeria — The political reconciliation process in Mali and the transformation of the African-led Support Mission in the country - AFISMA - into the UN Mission are top on the agenda of the 32nd ordinary session of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS), which opens in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday, 26th June 2013.
The two-day meeting which will also discuss the African Immediate Crisis Response Capacity (AICRC); the status of Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea and regional counter-terrorism initiatives, comes on the heels of the 18th June cease-fire accord signed in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, by Mali's main rebel Tuareg group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MINLA) and the Bamako government.
The agreement is to help pave the way for national elections planned for 28th July in Mali to be preceded by the transformation of the estimated 6,000 AFISMA force, into the 12,600-strong UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) by 1st July 2013.
The regional defence chiefs will also discuss the political situation in Guinea Bissau, especially the status of the ECOWAS-supported Defence and Security Sector Reform (DSSR) programme, and the operations of the ECOWAS Mission in that country - ECOMIB.
The opening ceremony of the CCDS session will be addressed by Ghana's Minister of Defence, Honourable Mark Owen Woyongo, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman and the CCDS chairman, General Soumaila Bakayoko of Cote d'Ivoire.