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Mali Army Rejects Parts of ECOWAS Plan

  • VOA News

Mali's army chief is rejecting parts of a regional military plan to retake the north from Islamist militants.

Army chief of staff Ibrahim Dahirou Dambele says Mali's military will take the lead role in driving out militants from the north. And he rejected an offering by the Economic Community of West African States to have regional troops protect the capital, Bamako.

"Nobody will fight this war in place of Mali," he said. "It will always be Mali, and the others will help with air and logistical support."

Dambele said Mali's military does welcome training and equipment as well as air and logistical support.

The regional bloc has offered to send more than 3,000 troops to Mali to help the government retake the north.

Rebels seized the north shortly after a military coup in March that greatly weakened the country's government and military.

The army chief spoke late Tuesday after meeting with ECOWAS defense chiefs. Mali's proposals are to be presented to ECOWAS heads of state for approval.

Western and regional states are concerned that northern Mali will become a safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists.

Some Islamist militant groups that control northern Mali are allied with al-Qaida's northern Africa branch.

In the south, there are concerns about the stability of a transitional government due to infighting and alleged meddling by the former military regime.
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