ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA —
The African Union Peace and Security Council says more troops are needed for the African military force being deployed in Mali. The AU security council Friday called on African countries to deploy the soldiers quickly.
At a meeting in Addas Ababa, Ethiopia, the AU security council approved a declaration calling for an increase in the number of troops for the African-led Support Mission in Mali [AFISMA].
The move comes as African troops have begun to arrive in Mali to assist the country's national army to quell a rebellion by al-Qaida-linked militants in the north.
Significant help required
Security Council Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said he could not put an exact figure on the number of new soldiers needed, but that it would be substantial.
“We definitely know, based on the first assumptions on which they are working, that the force size will have to be significantly augmented, increased,” said Lamamra.
The original concept for the force called for 3,300 troops to assist the Malian army. Lamamra said at this point, however, countries already have pledged 6,000.
He also said the AU security council is requesting help from the United Nations to fund the deployment of additional troops, citing the urgency of the situation.
“I think the political message from the peace and security council is we are facing an emergency situation, therefore we need to take these issues not in a business as usual manner,” said Lamamra.
The AU will host a donors' conference January 29 to raise funds from African nations and other international partners for the Mali intervention. France, which has sent its own military into Mali to attack rebel positions, has said the fundraising goal for the conference is about $450 million.
On the issue of Sudan and South Sudan, the AU Security Council decided to further extend the mandate of the AU negotiating body overseeing talks between the two countries until the end of July.
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The decision comes as the two sides continue to quarrel on the implementation of a border security agreement they reached in September. One of the biggest obstacles is resolving the final status of the Abyei region, which is claimed by both sides.
In a statement prepared for the meeting, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused Sudan of holding up progress, saying, “We have upheld our side of these agreements. Sudan has not.”
Kiir also blamed Khartoum for delaying the resumption of oil exports by insisting first on the implementation of new security arrangements.