The deputy chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission has commended the efforts of Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon in their joint military offensive against the Nigeria-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
Officials say Chadian forces crossed into Nigeria to attack the militants with support from the Nigerian army and air force.
Erastus Mwencha said the AU is seeking the approval of the United Nations Security Council for a proposed standby force to help fight Boko Haram militants.
At a recent summit in Ethiopia, African heads of state and government decided to establish a standby army comprising 7,500 troops to help West and Central African countries currently battling Boko Haram.
“Next week this resolution is to be presented to the UN Security Council [which] ultimately must endorse such a move. But from the African Union that decision has already been made. So we are waiting for the UN to also take a similar decision,” said Mwencha
He said the military offensive against Boko Haram is in line with the agreement reached by African leaders.
“We want to commend the effort because Boko Haram has been a huge menace. You know what they have done in terms of killing people, taking hostages, all sorts of crimes and, of course, Africa decided that this must be dealt with decisively,” said Mwencha.
Some security analysts questioned how the AU will fund a standby force to fight Boko Haram.
But, Mwencha said the African leaders discussed measures to help raise funds to support the yet-to-be established force.
“One of the things that was discussed at the summit is how to continue to mobilize resources within the continent and that would of course be gradual,” he said. “Ultimately, really, security [is] the responsibility of the UN Security Council. We hope that the UN Security Council in the end will continue to give support through the UN system.”
“But, Africa is also looking at other aspects because we put men and women with boots on the ground and countries also give a lot of support…International support is very much welcome, and we will continue to look forward [to that],” Mwencha added.
He expressed the African Union’s condolences to the families of the victims of the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon.
Mwencha said the AU is committed to combating the security threat posed by Boko Haram.
“As a continent we cannot allow this [violence] to happen because it is puling Africa backwards in terms of affecting investments [and] in terms of many socio-economic challenges that these militants cost the continent,” he said.