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Mali force to cost $460m, AU to fund $50m

29 January 2013, 09:50

Addis Ababa - The African-led force for Mali will require a budget of $460m, the African Union said on Monday, promising to contribute $50m for the mission to support Mali's army against Islamist militants.

"For the first time in the history of the African Union the budget will be used to support a peace operation," Ramtane Lamamra, AU's Peace and Security Commissioner told reporters.

The funding pledge comes on the eve of a major donor conference for the war-torn nation, where African leaders and Western delegates will drum up support for the African-led mission in Mali, or Afisma.

Mali has topped the agenda of the meeting of African leaders at their two-day AU summit, which opened Sunday.

The AU "decided to allocate $50m to both Afisma and the Malian security and armed forces," with around $5m of that pledge expected to go towards the Malian army, Lamamra said.

"It represents around ten percent of the overall budget of Afisma," he added, calling the decision "unprecedented."

Several of the leaders of the 54-member bloc are expected to stay on for the donor conference on Tuesday.

An AU draft document called on member states to "make generous financial and logistical contributions... for Afisma and the Malian armed forces in a spirit of pan-African solidarity and shared responsibility."

The AU has said it wants to bolster the strength of the force, and on Friday gave member states one week to commit troops to the mission.

On Sunday, outgoing AU chair Thomas Boni Yayi, the president of Benin, told fellow leaders their response to conflict in Mali had been too slow, and thanked France, the country's former colonial ruler, for taking the lead in its military intervention there.

France's action, launched on 11 January after Islamists seized a central town and threatened to advance on the capital, was something "we should have done a long time ago to defend a member country", he said.



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