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.
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.
Adama Drabo, 16, sits in the police station in Sevare, Mali, January 25, 2013. He was captured traveling without papers by Malian troops and arrested on suspicion of working for Islamic militant group MUJAO.
French soldiers sing the national anthem during a ceremony with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, before their departure to Mali, at Miramas Military base, France, January 25, 2013.
Malian troops man an observation post outside Sevare, Mali January 24, 2013.
French soldiers at an observation post outside Sevare, Mali, about 400 miles north of the capital Bamako, January 24, 2013.
A boy who fled northern Mali is seen at a camp for internally displaced persons in Sevare, Mali, January 23, 2013.
People who fled northern Mali are seen at a camp for internally displaced persons, in the city of Sevare, Mali, January 23, 2013.
Malians hang on the back of a packed minibus as they drive to Marakala, central Mali, 240 kilometers from Bamako, January 22, 2013.
A French soldier carries his equipment after arriving on a US Air Force C-17 transport plane at the airport in Bamako, Mali, January 22, 2013.
Malian soldiers carry a box of ammunition after searching through debris at a military camp in Diabaly, Mali, January 21 2013.
Charred pickup trucks, which according to local villagers, belonged to al-Qaida-linked rebels and destroyed by French airstrikes, are seen in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
A French soldier secures a perimeter on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
A Malian soldier walks inside a military camp used by radical Islamists and bombarded by French warplanes, in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
An unidentified man takes a picture of the charred remains of trucks used by radical Islamists on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
A Malian soldier checks identity papers in the center of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.