Monday, 21 January 2013

MALI: ''Fighting the Rebels'': Coalition of military contingents to back French forces

For the last one week, the Malian army and its French allies have been involved in a counter-offensive against the rebels who have been occupying the northern parts of the country and who had tried to advance to the central region.

The capture of the town of Konna by the armed rebels forced the French authorities to rapidly deploy the French air-force to help the Malian army push back the militants.
The French army continued with the aerial bombardments to stop the advancement of the rebels towards the south of the country. The latter were successively pushed out of the strategic town of Konna and that of Diabaly in the west.

Instead of deploying soldiers to the front-line like France had done, other Western countries such as Germany and the U.S. decided to offer logistical support.
The African states that are concerned with the crisis have been progressively putting together a military coalition with various contingents that will operate under the International Support Mission for Mali (MISMA).

The West African sub-regional states like Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria which will be followed by other countries, have sent ground troops on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Other non-ECOWAS member states like Chad and Rwanda have equally expressed their desire to send troops to fight against the rebels.

A total of 5,300 African soldiers will be deployed on the Malian territory, under the auspices of a military coalition that is supposed to help the French and Malian forces involved in an operation to liberate northern Mali from the hands of rebels.
"The Chadian army is one of the armies specialised in sandy battles. Therefore the decision by the country to send 2,000 officers will be very helpful to the coalition," said Abdoulaye Sidibe, a political scientist.

Several meetings are being held to ensure that MISMA is successful. The example of such meetings was the extraordinary summit of the ECOWAS heads of state and government that was held on Saturday in Abidjan.

The high level meeting was preceded by that of sub-regional Defence and Foreign ministers in the same Cote d'Ivoire capital.
"The ongoing military operations in northern Mali should bring total liberation and political stabilization of the country," Cote d'Ivoire's Foreign Minister Charles Koffi Diby said on Friday.

Diby who is also the chairman of ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council, said that everything should be done to ensure total eradication of the scourge of terrorism from the Sahel-Saharan region.
"The West African force will ensure that the terrorist groups are completely pushed out of Mali," Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara told his ECOWAS colleagues during the meeting in Abidjan.

Ouattara noted that the rebels in Northern Mali were engaged in acts of terrorism and drug-trafficking.

The sub-regional countries have decided to come together, while also counting on the logistical and financial support of the international community led by the United Nations, to defeat the groups.
The authorities of various countries have observed that unity is strength and they believe that a positive outcome will be realized from the solidarity that has been demonstrated towards Mali.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Blogger.com/AFP