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AU Takes Action on Boko Haram, Defers on S. Sudan

United Nations Secretary General Ban- Ki- Moon speaks during a news conference during the heads of state meeting of the annual African Union (AU) summit, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015.

The African Union is moving forward with a request for a military force to stop the spread of the Boko Haram insurgency in West Africa. As the AU summit in Addis Ababa comes to an end, leaders have postponed consideration of a potentially damning report on those responsible for the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said Saturday the first meetings on the formation of a 7,500-troop force to confront Boko Haram will take place in Cameroon in the coming days, followed by consultations at the United Nations to seek endorsement and funding for the mission.

“We will have, indeed, the challenge of financing this forces and discussions are ongoing and for us indeed the best will be within the assessed contributions of U.N.," said Chergui.

Leaders gather at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Jan. 29, 2015.
Leaders gather at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Jan. 29, 2015.

The AU Peace and Security Council has requested a multinational African force to conduct operations against the Islamist group, which is based in Nigeria, but is seen as an increasing threat to the country’s neighbors; in particular Cameroon and Chad.

Regional military efforts to confront the group gained momentum last week as Chadian forces retook control of a northern Nigerian town seized by Boko Haram.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the decision to form a regional front against the Islamist group, and said combating the threat of terror everywhere requires cooperation among nations.

“Like al-Qaida, Boko Haram, ISIS., all these terrorists, they have committed unspeakable brutality against humanity," said Ban. "Not a single country, not even regional countries, can handle this alone.”

Another pressing security challenge, the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, has been put aside.

The AU Peace and Security Council decided late Friday to postpone consideration of an AU inquiry report on South Sudan that allegedly names and shames those responsible for committing war crimes in the country.

Human rights groups have called for the AU to make the report public.

Taking the lead instead, the East African group of nations IGAD has organized power-sharing talks between South Sudan’s warring factions at a hotel in Addis Ababa.