The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have authorised the deployment of an African-led international force to flush out rebel groups from northern Mali in order to restore security in the country.
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The endorsement is contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the extraordinary summit held in Abuja on Sunday.
The communiqué requested the Peace and Security Council of the AU to endorse the Concept of Operations adopted by the session, together with the Strategic concept for onward transmission to the UN Security Council.
It said that this should be done in line with the deadline of Nov.15 stipulated by the UN Resolution 2071.
The communiqué urged the UN Security Council to examine the concept with a view to authorise the deployment of the force in Mali in conformity with Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
It commended the efforts of Mali in using military as well as diplomatic efforts at restoring constitutional order in the country, stressing the need for ECOWAS to play a leadership role in the deployment of the force.
It said that such a role should cover the command and resource mobilisation in close cooperation with the AU and the UN.
“Summit reiterates its commitment to the commission to maintain the stand-by force in a high state of readiness for imminent deployment and urges member state to concretise their commitment to provide military and logistical contributions to the ECOWAS military efforts.
“Authority also reiterates its preoccupation with the flagrant violation of human rights and humanitarian laws in the occupied territory as well as the humanitarian consequences that may result from the planned deployment.
“Authority welcomes the fact that the humanitarian angle has been taken into account in the strategic concept and the operation planning for the deployment and appeals to humanitarian agencies and international community to continue to provide assistance to the affected region,” it said.
Michaël Zumstein / Agence VUMilitiamen enlisting with the Liberation Front of North Mali train in Sevare. Many of the volunteers were forced to flee their homes and villages in the North.
Michaël Zumstein / Agence VUGanda Izo figheters welcome one of their leaders, 41-year-old Ibrahim Maïga, in Soufouroulaye, near Mopti.
Michaël Zumstein / Agence VUTwo Ganda Izo militiamen in Soufouroulaye.
Michaël Zumstein / Agence VUMilitiamen in the town of Sevaré, Mopti Territory.
Michaël Zumstein / Agence VUGanda Izo fighters line up in Soufouroulaye.
Michaël Zumstein / Agence VUGanda Izo exercises at a camp in Soufouroulaye.
Michaël Zumstein / Agence VUIbrahim Maïga, 41 years old, head deputy of the militia Ganda Izo (Sons of Land), shows on a map how he escaped route from Timbuktu, the historic Saharan city that fell into Islamist hands earlier this year.