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African Union, UN disagree over Mali plan

By Bakari Gueye for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 04/12/12

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Ministers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the UN on Monday (December 3rd) in Abidjan for being "out of touch" over its lack of urgency in taking action in Mali.

"Non-intervention or any reduction over the urgency of sending a force could worsen the security and humanitarian situation in the region and in Africa," ECOWAS ministers warned.

African Union Chairman and Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi also criticised the latest report submitted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council on the risks of military intervention in northern Mali.

"The general view is that the contents of the report appear to fall relatively short of the expectations of the African continent," Boni Yayi said in a letter to the UN Secretary-General.

"Any waning over the need to send an international force to fight terrorism in northern Mali will be interpreted as an expression of weakness against terrorists," he said.

Military intervention in northern in Mali "may be required as a last resort to deal with the most hard-line elements", Ban said in the November 28th report. "Fundamental questions remain unanswered," he said.

The report focused more on the disadvantages of military intervention than on the advantages.

"Military operations may be required at some point, as a last resort, to dislodge al-Qaeda and its allies from northern Mali," it said.

In particular, the secretary-general criticised the lack of detail in the strategic plans presented to him by the AU and ECOWAS.

Ban mentioned the many issues which have yet to be resolved, including "how the force would be led, sustained, trained, equipped and financed".

Military intervention could "risk ruining any chance of a negotiated political solution to the crisis, which remains the best hope of ensuring long-term stability in Mali", he added.

Though UN peacekeepers will not be sent in, the secretary-general suggested that member states should contribute on a voluntary basis.

"The UN is not best placed to address the security threat posed by terrorist groups," Ban said. However, The UN plans to boost its presence by fielding human rights experts and a large contingent of observers in Bamako.

Meanwhile, Malian President Dioucounda Traore met his Nigerien counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou in Niamey on December 2nd, where the two expressed their confusion over the UN's position.

In a statement issued at the end of this visit, both sides said that they did "not understand this back-pedalling, which merely gives terrorist groups more time to establish themselves in Mali".

"While the people of northern Mali suffer abuses committed on a daily basis by these four groups which are active, the international community, through the UN, has opted to backtrack," the statement said.

"Nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify this position of the UN when ECOWAS and the African Union have agreed to the deployment of an intervention force to help Mali's military take back control of the remainder of the occupied territory," Issoufou said.

Both heads of state called on the UN to take greater responsibility for resolving the crisis.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    modo 2012-12-14

    We saw what happened with the so-called Arab spring. That is why Algeria thinks as it does.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    BEN 2012-12-10

    Mali’s strategy consists of attaining an objective not necessarily in the North, but in all of West Africa. The main thing is to know to whom, for what and why this is beneficial and what the benefit is. The one’s being called “terrorists” are part of the solution, and the UN now only serves to legitimate foreign interventions among other things. Algeria’s setbacks and lack of a serious African policy, starting with the delivery of its new-born Polisario, which is the main obstacle to African unity and union. We see the consequences of this on the continent, which is open to all evils. The oil rents made the FLN forget its historical duty, which, after 30 years of myopia, finds itself today in the game of corruption and easy money for certain African dictators—in the eye of the storm, threatening borders inside and out.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    Gérard 2012-12-5

    Who started the UN’s reversal? It was certainly a great power. This is being played out between Algeria, France and the USA because they are undeniably involved in the intervention. They know why they need to delay this intervention. The stakes of the chess game played by these three countries in the region is the reason behind this report, whose aim is to delay the intervention. Northern Mali is a card table, and the three powers are taking part in the game. We also saw how this happened in Rwanda in 1994. The African Union and ECOWAS are the ones that should take responsibility and go in if need be without the UN. Why do they still, as always, stick out their hand, waiting. The solidarity of the ECOWAS countries could execute this intervention at their own pace and with their own means (even if they are limited).