Terrorism: Mahama backs Jonathan on foreign troops

Terrorism: Mahama backs Jonathan on foreign troops

Saturday, May 31, 2014 7:35 am

 Ghana’s president has said West African leaders must welcome “all assistance” in the battle against extremism at an emergency regional summit on unrest threats facing the region.

The comments came as Nigeria’s leader, Goodluck Jonathan, confronts increasing domestic pressure over his decision to accept foreign military support to rescue 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

“In order to successfully fight… terrorism, we must avail ourself of any and all assistance that is offered,” John Dramani Mahama said at the opening of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit in Ghana’s capital.

Dramani Mahama

Dramani Mahama

The meeting on Friday was  focused on combatting the Boko Haram insurgency that has shaken regional powerhouse Nigeria and the crisis in Mali, where Tuareg rebels have launched a fresh series of attacks in the restive north.

“We will not allow the progress that has been made for the benefits of many to be undermined and derailed by the selfish and destructive interests of a few,” added Mahama, who is president of ECOWAS.

Jonathan’s handling of Boko Haram’s brutal five-year uprising has been widely criticised, but his reaction to the mass abduction on April 14 has piled further pressure on his embattled presidency.

Critics, including the United States, maintain that he was slow to respond to the shocking attack in the northeastern town of Chibok and many dismissed the initial rescue mission as lacklustre.

The US, Britain, France and Israel are providing varying levels of support to find the missing girls.

Jonathan’s critics, including the governor of northern Kano state Rabiu Kwankwaso, have described the decision to allow foreign troops to help in the rescue as an embarrassment for the continent’s most populous country and top economy.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, still a powerful figure in Nigerian politics who has become one of Jonathan’s most vocal critics, has reportedly warned that foreign assistance has damaged Nigeria’s prestige on the continent.

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