W.Africa's ECOWAS to send troops to retake north Mali

ABIDJAN Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:21pm IST

Related Topics

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - West African regional bloc ECOWAS will begin sending soldiers to Mali by Monday as part of a mission to drive al Qaeda-linked fighters from the country's north, an Ivory Coast government official said on Saturday.

Malian soldiers retook a strategic central town on Friday after France intervened with air strikes to halt a southward advance by Islamist insurgents.

"The mandate for the deployment was signed by the president yesterday ... Monday by the latest, the troops will be there or will have started to arrive," said Ali Coulibaly, Ivory Coast's African Integration Minister.

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ECOWAS.

ECOWAS has for months lobbied the international community to support its plan for a regional military force to end the nine-month occupation of Mali's north by Islamist groups Ansar Dine, MUJWA, and AQIM, al Qaeda's North African affiliate.

Potential international partners in the operation had balked at fully backing the mission amid doubts about financing and disagreements over the force's mandate.

However an offensive this week by the Islamist coalition that threatened to seize the town of Sevare, home to a military base and a gateway towards the capital Bamako, around 500 km (300 miles) to the south, forced the French intervention.

"Things are accelerating ... This is not a mission to simply protect Sevare. We need to retake the northern part (of Mali) from the jihadists," Coulibaly said. "The reconquest of the north has already begun." (Reporting by Joe Bavier; editing by Andrew Roche)

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

Ebola Outbreak

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

U.S. to issue new Ebola guidelines, watch lists to shrink.  Full Article 

Setback for Abe

Setback for Abe

Setback for Japan PM as trade minister quits, media say another resign.  Full Article 

New President

New President

Reform-minded outsider Widodo takes over as Indonesia's president.  Full Article 

Call for Leniency

Call for Leniency

South Korea concert victims' families call for leniency.  Full Article 

Hong Kong Crisis

Hong Kong Crisis

Hong Kong crisis deepens after weekend clashes, talks set for Tuesday.  Full Article 

Kidnapped Girls

Kidnapped Girls

Nigerians doubtful of girls' release after Boko Haram "truce" breached.  Full Article 

Brazil Politics

Brazil Politics

Brazil's Rousseff on the offensive a week from runoff vote.  Full Article 

Nepal Disaster

Nepal Disaster

Tragedy shakes Nepal's faith in tourism.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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