By Jemal Oumar and Raby Ould Idoumou
African Union (AU) President Thomas Boni Yayi on Wednesday (May 30th) called for the UN support to a military intervention to resolve the crisis in Mali’s Azawad region.
“We are proposing that the AU strengthen its position so that its Peace and Security Council can refer the matter to the UN Security Council,” the Benin President and AU chief said in Paris.
“We do not want a west African Afghanistan,” Boni Yayi said. “The question of stability is non-negotiable for us.”
Boni Yayi was in Paris to discuss the issue with newly-elected French President François Hollande, who said that France would participate, but only in the “framework of a UN Security Council resolution”, AP reported.
“Countries threatened with terrorism in Sahel, such as Algeria, Mauritania and Libya, must be involved in the resolutions that aim to combat this terrorism,” Boni Yayi said, outlining his plan for a UN-supported African force similar to the intervention in Somalia.
In a press conference following the two leader’s closed-door meeting on Tuesday, the president declared that the AU wouldn’t give up on its support for the Malian government whose northern provinces were controlled by militant Islamic groups Ansar al-Din group and the secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).
The European Union joined the African Union Wednesday (May 30th) in rejecting the “declaration of independence” which was issued by the groups that control northern Mali, confirming their “determination” to preserve Mali’s territorial integrity, and strongly condemning “human rights violations in northern Mali by rebels, armed groups and terrorists”.
“The declaration of independence which was issued by MNLA is invalid and is deemed to have never existed,” the EU and AU said in a joint statement at the end of their 5th annual security and political committees meetings in Brussels, reiterating “their commitment to preserve Mali’s unity and territorial integrity”.
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) President Désiré Ouedraogo Kadré said Monday (May 28th) that the bloc would do it best to preserve Mali’s territorial integrity and ensure stability in its rebel-controlled northern provinces.
According to analysts, the call for international support in the Mali crisis is justified.
“The world can’t accept any aggression on the soil of an independent state,” Mauritanian journalist and analyst Abdallah al-Fath told Magharebia.
“The Azawad illusory state is now facing international isolation and threats posed by terrorist organisations that took advantage of the rebellion to consolidate their positions in Azawad,” he said.
“We have agreed to step up pressures,” said Olof Skoog, Permanent Chair of the EU’s Political and Security Committee.
Mohamed Ould al-Yidali, editor-in-chief of Sada al-Ahdas daily said: “Africa and Europe put rebel movements that ally with al-Qaeda in an impasse and blame them for events in northern Mali and the consequences that may result from them.”
“Azawad people’s demands may be negotiable, but an alliance with al-Qaeda is rejected by all international forces. That is where danger lies in Mali,” he explained.
In his turn, Mohamed Ould Sid Ahmed Val, a Mauritanian researcher and a professor of sociology at Nouakchott University, said in an interview with islamtimes.org that the crisis in Mali has evolved into what he described as “an internationally marketable idea”.
“European states may be prepared to provide logistical support to field countries to help realise stability and prosperity in the region,” he said. He added this was particularly true after the “occupation by al-Qaeda and jihadist groups in recent years, and especially after the latest developments and failure of Mali’s consecutive governments to control it,” he said.