AFISMA Head of Mission praises African Forces serving in Mali and elsewhere in the Continent
BAMAKO, Mali, April 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission and Head of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), former President Pierre Buyoya, has commended the African forces serving in Mali, for their courage, professionalism and efficiency.
Speaking at a press conference in Bamako, on 12 April 2013, President Buyoya pointed out that African forces have served with distinction in various peace support operations in the Continent and beyond, and are currently doing the same in Mali. He cited the specific examples of Somalia, where African forces were willing and able to intervene at a time when nobody else would, as well as Sudan and South Sudan, where predominantly African forces are successfully implementing international peacekeeping mandates.
During the press conference, the Special Representative discussed the state of the deployment of AFISMA, the envisaged transfer of authority from AFISMA to a UN Mission, and his recent visit to the northern Mali town of Gao. He recalled that AFISMA was established by the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council, with a mandate to assist Mali in recovering its territorial integrity and extending state authority throughout its national territory, as well as in fighting terrorist and criminal networks; assist in the process of restoring democratic legitimacy; and support the dialogue and reconciliation process, which is necessary to achieve sustainable peace, security, democracy and development in the country.
“AFISMA troops first arrived in Mali at the end of January 2013, and as at today, AFISMA has about 6,300 troops on the ground. AFISMA troops are present in all the three regions of northern Mali. A few days ago, our troops were deployed in Timbuktu, which was the last major northern town to welcome AFISMA forces. AFISMA troops have been warmly welcomed everywhere they have been deployed in Mali, and we are proud of the work they are doing, in close collaboration and coordination with the Malian Defense and Security forces and the French forces”, he stated.
The Special Representative indicated that logistics remains the main challenge confronting
AFISMA troops, adding that the planned transformation of AFISMA into a UN operation will help address the Mission's logistical problems. He thanked the African countries for expeditiously deploying troops to Mali, as part of international efforts to resolve the Malian crises.
“Africa's strong response to the Malian crisis is a demonstration of African solidarity. In less than two months, African countries have deployed more than 6,000 troops in Mali. That is remarkable. I am pleased to note that the international community is united in its stance on Mali.
AFISMA and the international community are in Mali to help Malians free their country from terrorist and criminal networks. These are threats not only to Mali and Africa, but also to global peace and security. Therefore, it is important that the international community remain united", he stated.
The Special Representative extended the condolences of Africa to Chad and the families of the Chadian soldiers killed two days ago by a suicide bomb in the northern Malian town of Kidal.
Furthermore, he urged the Malian Government to quickly re-establish administrative and social services in the liberated territories of the North.
“During my discussions with the Governor of Gao (on 5 April 2013), I stressed the important role of local administration in stabilizing Mali. At this phase, the bigger battle is for the hearts and minds of the people. In that regard, it is urgent to re-establish administrative and social services in the liberated areas. This will help build confidence with the population,” he said.
Present at the press conference were the Special Representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Deputy Head of AFISMA, Ambassador Touré Chéaka, and the Mission's Force Commander, Major-General Abdul Kadir.