Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jonathan says 1,200 troops, not 900, going to Mali; as Senate backs order

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President Jonathan has given his first figures of Nigerian troops to be deployed

Nigeria is deploying 1,200 soldiers, 300 more than previously reported, to join an international coalition fighting Islamist militants who have seized a large expanse of northern Mali, President Goodluck Jonathan has said.

The president said he was acting, convinced that Nigeria’s security was under threat from the insurgency if not brought under control.

A request for senate’s authorization for the deployment received a unanimous backing Thursday, with lawmakers saying the president’s decision was “in order.”

“In furtherance of the foregoing resolutions of the security council and other initiatives under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General, the African Union and ECOWAS, and having satisfied myself that our national security is under imminent threat or danger as a result of the crises in northern Mali,” President Jonathan said. “I, in consultation with the National Defence Council approved the deployment of 1, 200 (one thousand two hundred) members of the armed forces to serve in the African-led force (AFISMA) in Mali for limited combat duties.”

Nigeria is to lead an ECOWAS military mission to assist France which commenced military operations against insurgents that seized a large expanse of Mali’s north and was attempting to rapidly advanced southwards to towards the capital, Bamako.

Nigeria is to provide 1200 troops, and the first company of 190 soldiers is due in Bamako on Thursday.

Mr. Jonathan has also authorized the deployment of Nigerian warplanes to the country while the remaining troops will be in Mali in days.

Other West African nations have also pledged troops with the largest offer coming from Chad with promise to send 2,000 soldiers.

The deployments, expectedly to relief the French and help deal serious blow to the militants, have been slowed by logistics and bureaucracy.

In a letter to the senators, Mr. Jonathan said Nigeria is currently facing daunting security challenges, and given its proximity to the Sahel, the crisis in Mali, if not brought under control, may spill over to Nigeria and other West African countries.

“As a responsible member of international community, and given our recent experiences with insurgency and terrorists activities especially in the northern part of the country, I felt compelled to urgently approve the deployment of Nigerian troops,” the president said.

The deployment will combat armed terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) and their activities, as well as the proliferation of weapons, from within and outside the region, the president said.

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