AUPSC discuss Mali

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Addis Ababa, January 27 (WIC) - The African Union Peace and Security Council has approved a declaration calling for an increase in the number of troops for the African-led Support Mission in Mali [AFISMA].

The Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Lamamra, speaking after the meeting, said the force size would have to be significantly augmented, but he could not put an exact figure on the number of new soldiers needed.

The original size of AFISMA was put at 3,300 troops to assist the Malian army. Commissioner Lamamra said 6,000 had already been pledged and the Peace and Security Council is requesting help from the United Nations to fund the deployment of additional troops.

Commissioner Lamamra said the political message from the council was that this was an emergency situation and must be dealt with urgently.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mme. Dlamini Zuma described the situation in Mali as “a stark reminder of the dangers faced by the Malian state and the region as a whole in the continued activities of armed, terrorist and criminal groups in the region.”

She noted that the AU was very grateful to France, which has so far deployed 2,300 troops, and the international community that have stood with Mali as this had helped arrest the southward advance of these armed groups.

A donors’ conference will be held in Addis Ababa on Tuesday next week (January 29th) to solicit funds and logistics for AFISMA and for Mali’s army.

The meeting is expected to include representatives from the European Union and the UN Security Council.

Britain’s Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, said on Friday that the UK would provide training for AFISMA and for Mali troops.