President Hage Geingob has been asked to canvass support within the international community for Mali’s security efforts in a bid to bring an end to terrorism, which is tearing the West African country to shreds, including deaths of civilians.
The message came from the Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and was delivered to Geingob by visiting Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita.
Geingob has a wealth of experience in international diplomacy and it is the argument that Mali is looking for an experienced statesman to present its case to the international community.
Earlier this week that country’s leadership had praised the Namibian president for his efforts in promoting peace in Africa and consolidating the continent.
Keita was in the country for a four-day working visit and attended the inauguration of a joint permanent cooperation commission between the two countries.
“He (President Keïta) recalls your international support to Mali and particularly to the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations (UN) mission in Mali,” Keita informed Geingob yesterday at State House.
“He also said that he is counting on your support to be able to provide peace and stability in Mali. The situation remains challenging, mainly because of terrorism.”
“This is also because we are in the Sahara desert and because of the situation created in neighbouring countries such as Libya and Iraq – all these have repercussions on the security situation in Mali,” he added.
According to the visiting PM, President Keïta will continue to bank on Geingob’s support and voice in bringing peace to his country. He also stressed that in addition to the UN peacekeeping mission, the Mali police and security forces also need support.
“He is convinced that you will be a strong voice and an advocate for Mali in the international arena to continue – and plead for the necessity to provide support to Mali. [So that Mali will be] able to ensure its own security,” he stressed.
Keita described Namibia as a country that has been tested in fighting, is known to count on its own support, as well as a country that is sensitive to the suffering of others.
“We Malians remember with a lot of emotions the times when Namibia played an important role within the [UN]. Her voice was listened to and respected. Having the voice of Mali taken at such a level and carried by Namibia is important to us.”
In his response Geingob emphasised the UN’s role in maintaining international peace.
“So we shouldn’t just leave Africa’s problems to Africans when the UN is there to maintain international peace and security. We are members of the UN too and have been paying our dues. Since we have voices there, they [Mali] asked whether we could help there.”
Geingob added: “The other level is that our struggle was not just fought with guns but also by word of mouth. To go and tell people what is wrong and what is right and therefore go get solidarity. We should do everything we can to support, whether it is within SADC, the African Union or the UN.”
He continued: “We [must] speak the same language that Mali needs peace. Forces that are coming from outside must be stopped so that Malian people can enjoy peace and develop the country. It is now time and Africa is on the march. We want to have our narrative that we can use to develop and build our countries.”
According to international media, since 2012 rebels have taken up arms against the central government in Mali and declared an independent northern state. The government has struggled with terrorist attacks, while skirmishes in the north have occurred between rebel factions and pro-government militias.
The Washington Post reported that rebuilding the population’s confidence in the government has been a challenge and that after the rebellion a military coup deposed Mali’s democratically elected president, Amadou Toumani Touré.
It is said that this created a security vacuum, and Islamist groups took advantage of the chaos to sideline the rebel separatists in the north and establish their own form of theocratic governance, a form of rule that was very unpopular with most Malians.