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ECOWAS agrees to Mali intervention force

Posted by The Agonist on November 11th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Aljazeera

West African leaders at an emergency summit have agreed on a 3,300-strong force to wrest control of northern Mali from Islamist fighters, as fears grow over risks they pose to the region and beyond.

“We foresee 3,300 soldiers for a timeframe of one year,” Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, the current ECOWAS chairman, told journalists on Sunday after the summit.

The troops would come primarily from ECOWAS, but possibly from countries outside the bloc as well, he said.

The summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja was aimed at setting out a blueprint for military force in Mali’s north that would be transferred to the UN Security Council via the African Union.

Discussions also involved the potential training of 5,000 Malian troops, according to Ouattara.

Political crisis

Ouattara said he hoped UN Security Council approval could come in late November or early December, which would allow the force to be put in place days afterward.

“We have countries that are offering battalions, others companies,” he said.

ECOWAS countries he named were Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo.

From outside of ECOWAS, “Chad could also participate. We have had contacts with other countries – Mauritania, South Africa.”

The summit’s final communique stressed that dialogue remained “the preferred option in the resolution of the political crisis in Mali.”

“However, regarding the security situation, recourse to force may be indispensable in order to dismantle terrorist and transnational criminal networks that pose a threat to international peace and security,” it said.

An ECOWAS source had said earlier that regional military chiefs were proposing a total of 5,500 troops, with some 3,200 from the West African bloc and the rest from elsewhere.

It was not clear whether heads of state had rejected the proposal or if the bloc would continue efforts to reach that level.

More at the link

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