Ghanaian troops to Mali not a peace-keeping mission – Official
Colonel M’Bawine Atintande, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Armed Forces, has said the current mission in Mali, for which Ghana was sending 120 officers from the engineer regiment, was a combat mission and not a peace-keeping mission.
Speaking to the GNA in an interview on Tuesday at the KIA, where the batch of officers were preparing to depart for Mali, Col. Atintande said some media reports were referring to the mission as a peacekeeping mission, which was incorrect.
He noted the situation in Mali was a volatile one and because the militants were moving around and it was difficult to determine where the warfront was.
He said although the usual duration for a mission was six months, the Ghana Armed Forces were committed to maintaining troops there for as long as it took for the problem to be solved, adding that after six months there will be a rotation where those officers and men being deployed will be replaced by another contingent.
On whether it was possible for the militants to be completely flushed out of Mali by the various forces, Col Atintande explained that though it was possible with organized troops, there was the possibility of such people expanding into neighbouring countries.
He said civilians would have to be made aware of the situation and would have to play their parts in addressing the issue by sharing information with the authorities or security personnel and reporting suspicious-looking people.
Col Atintande further urged Ghanaians, especially family members of the officers not do things that would distract them and thus endanger their lives but to continue to pray for them and hope the problem is solved much peacefully than expected.
The Royal Airforce of the United Kingdom is currently airlifting in batches, about 120 officers and men of the Ghana Engineering Company I as well as their equipment to Mali.
This is part of Ghana contribution to the 3000 troops raised by AFISMA for the mission and is to protect the territorial integrity of Mali.
So far, about 60 officers and their equipment have been airlifted to Mali and the exercise is expected to continue till Friday, February 15, 2013.