By Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

ABUJA, Nigeria, May 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Cote d'Ivoire's Minister in charge of Defence in the office of the President, Mr. Paul Koffi Koffi has urged regional chiefs of defence staff to make recommendations for the seamless transformation of the African-led International Support Force in Mali (AFISMA) into a UN Mission by July 2013 in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2100 of 25th April 2013.

The Resolution requires that AFISMA troops re-hat into a UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Opening a one-day meeting of the sub-committee of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) in Abidjan on Saturday, 11th May 2013 to consider the modalities for the transformation, the minister said the recommendations should take cognisance of various ramifications to ensure that the force realized its mandate in the country.

He urged the seven-member sub-committee to focus on activities that will facilitate this transformation which is the international community's response to the dynamics of the situation in Mali "as we face the acts of terrorism perpetrated by individuals disturbing International peace, particularly those of the Sahel."

In an earlier speech, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman said the transformation will mark another "milestone in our collective efforts towards seeking a lasting solution to the security challenges confronting Mali which portends a serious threat to the region and the world."

The Commissioner commended the response of the international community to the Mali crisis including the decision to deploy AFISMA, noting that the transformation would face various challenges.

These, she said, imposes a responsibility to develop a planning and coordination mechanism for the transition which will also imply migration to a different concept of operations and a force generation drive to ensure compliance with UN standards.

The Commissioner stressed the need for the region to adopt a common position on its future role in Mali in the aftermath of the transformation.

While welcoming his peers, the chairman of the CCDS, General Soumaila Bakayako of Cote d'Ivoire said the committee has a critical role to play in the transformation with less than two months to the deadline.

He described the meeting as part of the process for a successful exercise, adding that in view of peculiarities of the country, it is important that the "right decisions are made" for the effectiveness of the force to ensure sustainable peace.

The sub-committee will also consider developments in Guinea Bissau where ECOMIB, the 670 strong ECOWAS Mission In Guinea Bissau was deployed last year .

The sub-committee is made up of the chiefs of defence staff of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire as chair.

During the opening, a one minute silence was observed for the Deputy Force Commander of AFISMA, Brigadier General Yaye Garba, who died early today.