Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 29: President Joyce Banda says she is ready to send troops to the war-torn West African country of Mali provided that the country does not foot the logistics by itself.
Speaking to Malawi News Agency (Mana) at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa Ethiopia; before flying to South Korea to attend a development meeting and the Special Olympics, President Banda said Malawi is committed for peacekeeping exercise, but could not manage to foot the logistics by herself.
“Malawi’s commitment for peacekeeping has always been there and when the Vice President [Khumbo Kachali] represented me at last year’s AU summit, he committed Malawi to contribute soldiers for peacekeeping.
“Our position on the matter is that as long as the financial obligation to participate in peacekeeping does not fall on us, we are prepared as a nation to make up a contribution of our troops for peacekeeping in Mali,” said Banda describing the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers as professionals and well-disciplined.
President Banda’s remarks comes after a plea by the new Chairman of the African Union (AU) Hailemariam Dessalegn to the member countries that they should do everything possible to help restore constitutional order in Mali.
Meanwhile, the AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said the African-led force for Mali (AFISMA) will cost US$460 million, with the AU promising to contribute US$50 million for the mission.
Lack of cash and logistical resources has hampered the AFISMA force, a group of troops set up by the West African bloc ECOWAS to support Malian troops against Islamist forces that took control of the northern part after a coup last year.
Since January 2012, several rebellious groups have been fighting a campaign against the Malian government for the independence of an area called Azawad, which is located to the North of the country.
On January 11, 2013, France launched military operations against the rebels in northern
Mali, following a request by the Malian government to stop the rebels from making advances to the southern part.