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Mali, Sudan Dominate AU Summit Agenda

  • Gabe Joselow

Malian troops man an observation post outside Sevare, Mali January 24, 2013.

Malian troops man an observation post outside Sevare, Mali January 24, 2013.

Mali is featured high on the agenda at a meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa Friday, which will also discuss the progress of talks between Sudan and South Sudan.

The AU's main security organ is considering a way forward to confront the crisis in Mali, where al-Qaida linked militants have seized territory in the north.

As African troops begin arriving in Mali, the AU is considering how to continue providing logistical and financial support for the mission.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said the AU will have a better idea of its way forward after the AU summit and a donors' conference on Mali scheduled for next week.

“At the end of this process, by the end of this month, I think we'll come out with a clearer picture of the issues," Lamamra said, "...the additional troop contributions and logistic issues.”

Countries belonging to the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) have pledged to contribute most of the 5,000 troops wanted for the mission. But other countries outside the bloc, including Chad and Burundi, are also sending soldiers.

Lamamra said more countries might contribute to the mission in the future.

The AU Security Council will also discuss progress in talks between Sudan and South Sudan to implement agreements to end their outstanding disputes leftover from their separation in 2011.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir held bilateral talks at the African Union ahead of the Council meeting. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating negotiations between the two countries on behalf of the AU, also attended.

The two countries remain hung up on the final status of the oil-rich Abyei region, and on ways to secure their shared border.

South Sudan has said it cannot resume the transfer of oil through Sudanese pipelines until the outstanding agreements are implemented.

South Sudan shut down oil production in a pricing dispute with Sudan last year that has damaged both countries' economies.