News / Africa

    Mali's President Calls for Swift Ouster of Islamists

    Malians opposing foreign military intervention to retake country's Islamist-held north protest ECOWAS (French acronym CEDEAO), Bamako, Oct. 18, 2012.
    Malians opposing foreign military intervention to retake country's Islamist-held north protest ECOWAS (French acronym CEDEAO), Bamako, Oct. 18, 2012.
    VOA News
    Mali's interim president is calling for swift foreign intervention to retake the country's north from al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants.
     
    President Dioncounda Traore told an international conference in Bamako Friday that time is of the essence if the militants are to be dislodged.
     
    "I want to emphasize the urgent nature of this implementation because we are in a real race against time and can't afford to lose even a second of time to the benefit of our common enemy," he said.
     
    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has proposed deploying a 3,000-strong military force to Mali to help oust the militants. However, some Malians object to the idea of foreign intervention.
     
    Traore promised "total collaboration" with the force by his government.
     
    Mali was plunged into chaos by a March 22 coup that toppled the president. The militants who seized the north have held public executions, amputations, and floggings in an effort to enforce their strict version of Islamic law.
     
    Last week, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution clearing the way for deployment of the ECOWAS force. The resolution gave African leaders 45 days to draw up a plan for military intervention.
     
    Former colonial power France led the call for action on Mali in the Security Council and was a sponsor of the resolution. President Francois Hollande, speaking in Senegal last week, said the "horrors in northern Mali can't be tolerated." 
     
    The meeting in Bamako includes representatives from ECOWAS, the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union.
     
    The African Union's new chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said the AU has "deep concern" about Mali's situation. She said the AU will open an office in Bamako to oversee security, environmental and developments programs for Africa's Sahel region.

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