AFISMA troop – Photo: Newsabamako
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Desire Ouédraogo, has paid glowing tributes to troops from the region and Chad for their sacrifice for “freedom and peace” in Mali on behalf of the region and Africa.
“We will never forget the enormous sacrifice they made, supported by a brotherly country (Chad) for African solidarity,” Ouédraogo said Thursday at the Commission’s Abuja headquarters during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ECOWAS and the troop-contributing countries of AFISMA, African-led International Support Mission.
Some 6,000 troops from ECOWAS member States and Chad served under AFISMA between January and June 2013, before it was transformed into a UN mission, MINUSMA, on 1 July, 2013.
Ouédraogo acknowledged the critical role played by these countries in contributing troops to AFISMA, whose intervention paved the way for the just-held successful presidential election in Mali.
“We are very proud of our men and women on the ground because after six months of a successful mission, no violation of human rights or humanitarian law was reported,” he added.
“The MoU formalized the deployment of AFISMA, which was made up of troops from eight ECOWAS Member States – Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo – and Chad, as part of the regional response to end Mali’s political and security crises.
Ouédraogo paid tribute to all AFISMA troop-contributing countries for bearing the costs of their contingents, the Commanders and men and women of the mission as well as France, which first sent troops to halt the advance of the Malian rebels, and other partners for supporting AFISMA.
“For us in ECOWAS, our intervention has been a great success both at the political, military and security levels, going by the “free and fair presidential elections on 28th July,” he affirmed.
In her remarks, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada, recalled that regional leaders only resorted to troop deployment after exhausting the options for political solution to the Mali crises.
“We are happy to say that all the countries rose up to the challenge and we also thank Chad which is not an ECOWAS member State for its contribution,” she said, expressing the hope that peace and stability will return to Mali following the outcome of the president elections.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Pace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, spoke in the same vein, commending the AFISMA troop-contributing countries for doing the region and Africa proud.
She also lauded the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff for their tireless efforts, and ECOWAS partners, particularly France, EU, US and the UK, for providing financial and logistical support to AFISMA.
Suleiman also congratulated the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission for its dynamism and understanding towards the resolution of the Mali crises.