African Union head wants NATO to help fight Mali rebels

OTTAWA Wed Jan 9, 2013 2:37am IST

Chairman of the African Union and Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni (L) takes part in a news conference with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Chairman of the African Union and Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni (L) takes part in a news conference with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

Related Topics

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The head of the African Union, Benin President Boni Yayi, on Tuesday called for a global coalition that includes NATO to intervene against Islamist rebels in northern Mali.

"My understanding is that in reality when we talk of an international force it's not just (West African regional group) ECOWAS, it's not just the African Union, it's also other forces from outside the African continent, given the seriousness of the situation," Yayi told a news conference in Ottawa.

Islamist groups have seized the northern two-thirds of Mali, spawning concern that the region could become a center for radical extremists. On Monday, Mali's army repelled an attack on its advance positions by heavily armed Islamist groups, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

Islamist fighters who seized control of Mali's vast desert north in April have advanced towards government positions in the region of Mopti in recent days, sowing fears of a return to fighting after months of uneasy stalemate.

"NATO should join up with our African forces. Our African forces will show the way, I believe, as it was done in many other places, such as Afghanistan ... The threat of terrorism is in reality something for the international community to deal with," Yayi said.

In December, the 15-nation U.N. Security Council unanimously authorized deployment of an African-led military force to help defeat al Qaeda and other Islamist militants in northern Mali.

Yayi spoke after a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who said Canada would provide humanitarian aid but was not planning to join the U.N.-sanctioned force.

"Obviously, we are very concerned about the situation," Harper said. "The development of essentially an entire terrorist region in the middle of Africa is of grave concern to everybody in the international community." (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Additional reporting by Louise Egan and Randall Palmer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Toni Reinhold)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Reuters Showcase

Typhoon Kalmaegi

Typhoon Kalmaegi

Typhoon spares Hong Kong, but disrupts business.  Full Article 

Hurricane Odile

Hurricane Odile

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting.  Full Article 

NATO Points Finger

NATO Points Finger

Top NATO commander questions Russian intentions toward Moldova.  Full Article 

Asteroid Search

Asteroid Search

NASA's hunt for dangerous asteroids falls short, report shows.  Full Article 

Fiji Vote

Fiji Vote

Ghosts of ethnic conflicts past haunt Fiji vote.  Full Article 

Iceland Whaling

Iceland Whaling

EU, U.S. blast Iceland for stepping up whaling.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage