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By Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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ABUJA, Nigeria, March 26, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Chairman of ECOWAS Committee of Chief of Defence Staff (CCDS), General Soumaila Babayoko has called for intensified and sustained international support to rid Mali of the dangerous scourge of terrorism and criminality, threatening not only the country but the region and the rest of the world.

Speaking at the opening of an extraordinary meeting of the CCDS in Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian administrative capital on Monday 25th March 2013, called to discuss the transformation of the African-led International Mission in Mali (AFISMA) into a UN Peace Operation, he noted that while a measure of progress had been recorded through the intervention of France and Chad complemented by the regions forces, there is still a long way to go to prevent the destabilization of the region.

Gen. Bakoyoko, Cote d'Ivoire's chief of defence staff, said the momentum generated by the international mobilization that resulted in last December's UN Security Council Resolution 2085, behind regional efforts for military intervention in Mali should be sustained for the rehatting of AFISMA into a UN operation coupled with accelerated deployment to checkmate the terrorist insurgents in northern Mali.

In her remarks, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, said the Yamoussoukro meeting would consider the outcome of the 11-12 March 2013 meeting in Bamako between a UN team and AFISMA Headquarters on the standard of operations and logistics support under a UN deployment for the envisaged transformation of AFISMA under a revised Concept of Operations (CONOPS).

On behalf of the ECOWAS Commission, the Commissioner, represented by the Chief of Staff of ECOWAS Standby Force, Gen. Hassan Lai, commended France, the US, EU, the African Union and the UN for their understanding and continued support towards the resolution of the security situation in Mali.

While declaring the meeting open, Cote d'Ivoire's Defence Minister Gen. Paul Kofi Kofi, said the Yamoussoukro CCDS extraordinary meeting marked a turning point in efforts at resolving the Mali crisis.

Thanking the partners and collaborators including the troop contributing countries and the troops on the field, the Minister noted that the job to save Mali from the terrorists and other criminals operating under the guise of religion is far from completed.

The two-day meeting, being attended among others, by the Military Adviser to the UN on peace keeping Gen. Abdou Lat Gueye, Commander of the French SERVAL operation in Mali, Gen. Gregoire De Saint Quentin, the Chadian Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Brahim Sehid Mahamat and the ECOWAS Special Representative in Mali Aboudou Chaka Toure, will make recommendations to ECOWAS authorities towards the realization of the AFISMA transformation into a UN field operation.

Also in attendance are commanders of AFISMA and the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau.