General News of Sunday, 1 February 2015
The African Union (AU) has resolved to deploy a Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to Nigeria to fight the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, that is threatening the security of that country.
The decision was made at a meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU).
According to the AU, the Task Force will initially be made up of troops from countries in the Lake Chad Basin (LCBC) and Benin, and will be deployed for twelve months.
At the Council’s meeting at the ongoing 24th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority, President John Dramani Mahama, supported by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, gave a presentation in support of the AU’s authorization and deployment of the regional force.
President Mahama, who has been championing the regional body’s position and has congratulated Chad’s efforts to fight the Boko Haram group, told the meeting in Addis Ababa that the LCBC and Benin’s position is supported by ECOWAS because “if unchecked, we risk having this group morph into an uncontrollable monster in the foreseeable future.”
“I wish to call on our Union to authorize the immediate deployment of a Multinational Joint Task Force with the aim of degrading and neutralizing Boko Haram. I also call on our Union to mobilise international support- moral, financial, logistical and other means to support the Force and the LCBC in this fight against the Boko Haram Terrorist Group,” President Mahama stated.
He also noted that as the current Chair of ECOWAS, he considers it his responsibility to help in mobilizing international support for the kind of sustained and coordinated action required to eliminate the menace.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting of the Peace and Security Council, President Mahama welcomed the decision, noting that there will be a follow-up meeting in February.
“The communiqué is yet to be discussed, but the consensus was for the AU to authorize a regional force and to mandate the LCBC to set about setting up such a force. There is supposed to be a follow-up meeting in Yaounde, Cameroun, in the first week of February to come up with the concept and operational planning for such a force,” the ECOWAS Chairman stated.