The head of the Nigerian Army Oluseyi Petinrin (g), and the Ivorian Soumahila Bakayoko, 29 March 2012 in Abidjan
Crise malienne: réunion des chefs d'état-major ouest-africains à Abidjan
Published: 05/04/2012 Article Author: KigaliKonnect.com Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Abidjan on Thursday to discuss the possible deployment of a regional military force already on alert to deal with the crisis in Mali, AFP noted.
The army chiefs of ten countries in the ECOWAS (which Mali was suspended after the coup of 22 March) met to 11:00 (GMT) for a meeting chaired by the Ivorian Minister Delegate for Defense Paul Koffi Koffi.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Niger specifically participate in this "emergency meeting" attended by French and American officers.
Speaking at the opening of the "roadmap" to military officials, Mr. Koffi asked "to imagine the ways and means, in addition to diplomatic actions and policies", to "help secure the return to constitutional legality "and" stop the advance of the rebellion "in Mali.
The meeting aims to develop "an action plan operational standby force of ECOWAS, with a timetable and budget for concrete actions to be undertaken," he said.
"This means it will specify the numbers to deploy, the breakdown by country, size of units to compose, logistics and time to mobilize such a campaign," detailed the minister.
The "alarming" situation in Mali "concern at the highest level throughout the sub-region", "it is urgent" to "save this country," stressed the head of the Ivorian army, General Soumaila Bakayoko, before the camera.
At the end of a summit Monday in Dakar, the head of the Ivorian state Alassane Ouattara, President of ECOWAS, had announced "the immediate establishment of the force waiting" and said that regional leaders Staff would meet this week in Abidjan "to see how activation of this force."
Ecowas had earlier put on alert its force of some 2,000 men.
The West African organization has invoked the need to restore constitutional order after the military coup in Bamako and restore the territorial integrity of Mali, which rose in the north a few days under the control of the Tuareg rebellion National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and armed Islamist groups.
Ecowas has also imposed an "embargo", economically, financially and diplomatically, against the ruling junta in Bamako.
In an interview published Thursday in the French press, the junta leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, urged the West to intervene militarily in northern Mali and Tuareg rebels against the Islamists.
"There will be no military solution to the Touareg," said his side on Thursday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. "This is a political need," he said, adding that ECOWAS, Algeria and Mauritania were to contribute.
To tackle the rise in Islamist al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and assist the legitimate authorities in Bamako, the minister said that a force of ECOWAS intervention could then receive logistical support from France , former colonial power.
"We support all efforts of ECOWAS, including the preparations for military action", for its part said the spokesman of the French Ministry, Bernard Valero.