BAMAKO, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The International Support Mission for Mali (MISMA) will effectively begin its operations on Jan. 18 to Nov. 23, 2013, the chairman of the Committee of the ECOWAS general chiefs of staff, Cote d'Ivoire's general Soumaila Bakayoko said on Thursday.
At the end of the extraordinary meeting held in Bamako between Jan. 15 to 16, four countries which include Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Togo agreed to send their ground forces to Mali between Tuesday and Thursday next week.
"The Nigerien battalion is already stationed near the border with Mali and it's ready to begin operations. Nigerian troops are expected at the Bamako Senou airport on Thursday afternoon.The Togolese battalion is scheduled to arrive on Saturday while that from Burkina Faso will arrive on Jan. 22," Bakayoko said.
Each of the countries will send a contingent of 500 soldiers on the ground. However, Togo will send additional 56 members of the medical team who will set up treatment centers for the benefit of MISMA while Ghana will send a team of military engineers and Sierra Leone will send a maintenance battalion.
Bakayoko said that it's not due to lack of willingness that other countries will not join their Malian brothers to fight the militants. He mentioned countries like Senegal which already has 406 soldiers who are ready for the operation, just like Guinea, Gambia, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau.
Between Thurday and Tuesday next, Bakayoko said, three countries will be on the ground to fight the rebels. They include the Malian forces and their French allies as well as the Nigeriens who are just waiting for orders to begin the operation from their side of the border.
The special representative of the Commission President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Cheaka Aboudou Toure said the mandate of MISMA is to liberate Mali from the hands of the militants.
Toure revealed that Chad is ready to send between 1,000 and 1, 500 soldiers who will fight alongside the Malian and French forces but they will not be under the command of MISMA which he is leading.
A coordination center will be created soon to control the operations since the Malian forces will not also be under the command of MISMA.
General De Saint Quentin who is the commander of the French forces in Mali said more French officers will arrive in Mali over the week-end to reinforce the coordination center.
It's estimated that the cost of the MISMA force for a period of one year will be 240 million U.S. dollars. However, the foreign forces will take care of themselves for a period of three months and thereafter, they will be reimbursed.
Nigeria's general Sehy Oumar Abdul Kadry will be the commander of the MISMA forces and his deputy commander will be Yaya Garba from Niger. MISMA's chief of general staff will be colonel Jean Paul Ntab from Senegal.