AFRICA/MALI - Controversy about sending a military force of West African Countries
Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - "It will take some time to launch a military operation in the north of Mali, with the support of ECOWAS troops" says to Fides Agency Father Edmond Dembele, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Mali. The ad interim President of Mali, Dioncounda Traoré, had asked ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to send a military force to help local armed forces to regain control of the north, for months in the hands of several armed fundamentalist groups. However, some controversy about the purposes and powers of this force has cropped up (see Fides 05/09/2012).
"The opposition of the Malian military allowed ECOWAS to provide air and logistical support to the army in Mali. The presence of foreign troops to protect national institutions is out of the question. Foreign soldiers, for our military leaders, have to support operations for the reconquest of the north, which must be conducted by the national army, " explains Don Dembele.
In the negotiations between the civil and military authorities in Bamako and ECOWAS on sending troops to this organization in the Country, the controversy on certain supplies of arms stranded in ports of Guinea and Senegal also has its weight, "these weapons ordered by former President Amadou Toumani Touré, overthrown by the military coup in March, which have been blocked for months in the ports of these two African Countries, are also part of ECOWAS," says Fr Dembele. The Malian military claim that these weapons are essential to launch a military operation in the north. One wonders if blocking these military supplies is a form of pressure from the ECOWAS to force the authorities in Bamako to accept the military mission. But it is only a hypothesis not confirmed. Of course, this issue is part of the negotiations to define the terms of the military mission. The arrival of soldiers of the Pan-African force is not expected in a short space of time but at least things are moving," concludes Don Dembele. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 07/09/2012)
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