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ECOWAS holds final conference ahead of Mali troops deployment

07 August 2012, 15:05

Bamako -  ECOWAS has opened a 10-day conference in Bamako, to finalise preparations for the deployment of 3,000 troops to Mali, to help restore peace to the  country. PANA reported on Tuesday.

The deployment would also help restore the country's territorial integrity and restore constitutional order. on Tuesday.

The decision to hold the conference was taken at the two-day emergency meeting of ECOWAS military chiefs in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, in July, under the aegis of the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS).

At that meeting, the CCDS endorsed the report and outcome of the Technical Assessment Mission (TAM) that visited Mali from July 6 to 18, which assisted by the AU and the UN.

PANA learnt that the final planning conference, which opened on Monday and which will run through Aug. 15., is being attended by the members of staff of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF).

The ESF is the Mission Planning and Management Cell at the ECOWAS Commission,which  decides commanders and staff officers of the units to be deployed and representatives of the AU, European Union and the UN.

``All the issues pertaining to MICEMA (ECOWAS Mission in Mali) will be finalised at the Bamako meeting, which will examine all dimensions of the deployment.

``In other words, the whole deployment issue will be looked at holistically,'' a top ECOWAS Commission official told PANA on the condition of anonymity.

The official said the Bamako conference would be followed by another extra-ordinary meeting of the CCDS, also at the same venue.

''The report of the conference and the next extra-ordinary meeting of the CCDS will feed into what we are taking back to the UN to get its approval for the deployment,'' the official said.

The 15-member ECOWAS is seeking the approval of the UN Security Council to deploy MICEMA under a chapter of the UN Charter, which allows for sanctions, including economic measures and an arms embargo, as well as the use of military force, to maintain peace.

An earlier attempt by the regional bloc to get the endorsement of the UN faltered, after the Security Council called for detailed information on the planned deployment before giving its authorisation.

Islamists and Tuareg rebels in the northern part of Mali rode on the back of a March military coup that toppled the country's democratically-elected government to occupy the northern region and throw the West African nation into deep humanitarian and security crisis.

The crisis has forced hundreds of citizens to flee to neighbouring countries and left hundreds more internally-displaced.

The Islamists, believed to have close ties with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, have since upstaged their Tuareg collaborators.



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