AU envoy says parallel force will support UN forces in Mali

The special envoy of the African Union Commission (AU) chairperson who is also the head of the International Support Mission for Mali (MISMA), said on Friday that besides the expected UN forces, there will be a parallel support force to make the operations in Mali more offensive.

While addressing the press in Bamako, Pierre Buyoya reiterated that the MISMA forces will soon be transformed into a United Nations (UN) peace keeping force.

"We should first wait for a new UN Security Council resolution," he said while also noting that already there is a report of the UN secretary general that is supposed to be examined by the Security Council.

"Once the resolution is adopted, we shall have to wait for a period of three months before its passage," he added. Buyoya said that the transformation of the MISMA mandate into a UN force under chapter 7, will bring about changes in terms of funding for the troops that will not be under AU.

The AU envoy affirmed that "besides the UN forces, there will be a parallel support force that will make the operations more offensive. The parallel force whose base will be constituted by MISMA forces, will be supported by France."

Reacting to the recent declarations by Michael Sheehan, an adviser to the U.S. defense secretary, regarding the "inability" of the troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) who are fighting under MISMA, Buyoya said that these forces "should not be compared to the French forces."

"We (MISMA) decided to come to Mali before the French troops had decided to do so. We should therefore not be compared to them," he affirmed.

"It's circumstances that made the French troops to come here before us because they had the means, but we shall also continue reinforcing our capacity. In fact we may remain here longer than the French forces," the AU envoy who is a former Burundi president, said.

"We have some inadequacies, but we shall continue to improve our operational capacity. We are working within our reality and I think that no one should doubt our usefulness to Mali," he concluded.

Philippines News agency