Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ECOWAS to Send 3,000 Standby Troops to Mali

West Africa: Ecowas to Send 3,000 Standby Troops to Mali

16 April 2012

Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has disclosed that ECOWAS is contemplating sending to Mali 3,000 strong standby troop to be named ECOWAS Mission in Mali (MICEMA) in order to restore constitutional rule, firm condemnation of the rebellion and the non-recognition of any so-called independent territory in Mali.

Another deployment is also being planned for Guinea Bissau, where electoral violence looms.

Addressing a press conference over the weekend following his return from Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire where he led a Liberian delegation, Minister Ngafuan disclosed that the regional group's ministerial meeting endorsed several key proposals for submission to the ECOWAS Authority.

Minister Ngafuan disclosed the immediate deployment of troops in Guinea Bissau to support the Government, insisting on the holding of the second round of the election on the date agreed by relevant stakeholders and convincing the opposition to partake in the elections among others as vital recommendations made by ECOWAS President and endorsed by the Council at the Ministerial level.

Mali's crisis began on January 17, 2012 when returnee rebels from Libya entered the country's north with an armed rebellion triggered by the Libyan crisis and overthrow of Col. Muammar Gaddafi led by the National Movement for the Liberation of AZAWAD (MNLA).

A March 22, 2012 coup further deteriorated the situation when a group of junior army personnel led by Captain Amadou Sanogo overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure.

In Guinea Bissau, a scheduled second round of voting in presidential elections slated for April 29, 2012 was threatened by a coupe on Thursday, April 12, 2012 when front-runner Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., was captured by other senior military officials.

But the Liberian Foreign Minister told journalists that ECOWAS has not only condemned the unconstitutional behavior by the military in Guinea Bissau but also called on the military to return the country to constitutional rule. "Liberia reaffirms her commitment to ECOWAS' zero tolerance policy on the forceful seizure of power through unconstitutional means", Minister Ngafuan is quoted as saying in the release.

The Minister Ngafuan-led Liberian delegation left the country on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 for the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council at the Ministerial Level to review the political and security situations in Mali and Guinea Bissau.

Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and three other experts who travelled with the Foreign Minister to represent Liberia joined their West African counterparts in making substantive and informed recommendations to ECOWAS Heads of States and Government (ECOWAS Authority) for their decision on the way forward on the political, security and humanitarian situations in the sub-region.

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