UK backs Nigeria on Mali mission
By KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA—The United Kingdom, yesterday, announced that it would provide needed support for Nigeria and ECOWAS in their bid to dislodge the group of face-less terrorists that have hijacked strife-torn Mali and made peace hard to come by.
A military intervention force of 3,200 troops, to be led by Nigeria, is set to storm Northern Mali, which is under severe attacks orchestrated by alleged Al Qaeda sympathisers and this had made life difficult for Malians and subsequently delayed the political transition programme.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja, Special Envoy to British Prime Minister on the Sahel, Mr. Stephen O-Brien, said Britain appreciated the role Nigeria was playing in the sub-region.
He said it was the same reason that made the UK government resolved to contact the country on what could be done to assist in the restoration of peace in Northern Mali.
O-Brien, accompanied by the acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Giles Lever, and two others, told newsmen that whatever assistance his country would give would largely be determined by Nigeria.
He also promised to seek further help from the international community.
Acting Minister of Defence, Dr. Olusola Obada, told the visiting Special Envoy that the ECOWAS Heads of State had resolved to send the troops to restore peace and security in the affected part of the troubled nation.
She said the menace of terrorism in the Northern Mali had been “a great concern not only to everyone in the sub-region but also to the international community.”
She noted how the terrorists were making life difficult in the area and how the proposed election could not be held to allow every part of the country to be involved.
The minister was optimistic that the military intervention was an enforcement of the UN Revolution 2071 as resolved by the ECOWAS Heads of State in the region.
She said: “The resolution has been forwarded to the UN through the African Union.”
She said until the crisis was resolved, the possibility of conducting election in the country was nil.
Obada said: “It would not be proper to hold election in the South, leaving the whole North out of it. If the election would hold, it has to be in the whole country.”
Obada also appreciated the support pledged by the British government and further solicited for the international community.
The meeting was attended by the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, representatives of the Chief of Naval Staff, directors in the ministry and some top military officers.