Thursday, 17 January 2013

If the crisis in Mali is not quickly contained, it may spill over to Nigeria, says Jonathan

IF the crisis in Mali is not quickly contained, it may spill over to Nigeria and other West African countries with great security and political consequences, President Goodluck Jonathan warned Thursday.
In a letter seeking the Senate’s consent to deploy the troops, the president underscored Nigeria’s security challenges and highlighted the dangers of the country’s proximity to the Sahel region.
“As a responsible member of the international community and given our recent experiences with insurgency and terrorist activities, especially in the northern parts of the country, I felt compelled to urgently approve the deployment of Nigerian troops,” the president said.
He also drew the attention of the chamber to the concern raised by the Security Council on the deteriorating human and security situation in the north of Mali, which is further complicated by the presence and entrenchment of armed and terrorist groups including Al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) and their activities, the consequences of instability in the northern parts of Mali on the region and beyond as well as the need to respond swiftly in order to maintain peace across the Sahel region.
He further referred the lawmakers to various resolutions of the Security Council on the Mali crisis, especially that of 2071 (2012), which declared its readiness to respond to Mali’s request for an international military force, its request for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military assistance as well as ECOWAS letter of September 2012 to the UN Secretary General requesting a Security Council’s resolution authorising the deployment of stabilisation force in Mali under Chapter VII mandate of the United Nations Charter.
The President, therefore, urged the Senate to exercise its powers under section 4(5) of the Constitution to approve the deployment of 1,200 members of the armed forces to serve in the African-led force (AFISMA) in Mali.
Shortly after the letter was read on the floor, the Senate went into an executive session to discuss the mode of debate on the matter.
During the debate after the executive session, senators unanimously applauded President Jonathan for his action, stressing that it was in accordance with Nigeria’s foreign policy.
One thread that ran through the contributions was that such assistance should be tied to economic benefits for Nigeria.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and his Air Force counterpart, Alex Sabundu Badeh have also said that Nigeria is prepared to ensure that it promotes absolute return of peace to Mali, as 162 soldiers out of the 906 troops deployed on peace mission were moved to the troubled country yesterday.
Ihejirika who addressed the contingents of soldiers at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Center (NAPKC), Jaji before their departure to Mali, said that “the Mali’s restive Tuaregs minority erupted into rebellion and were holding several parts of Northern Mali since March, 2012,” pointing out that this was a country “once an apparent pillar of democracy in West Africa.”

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