News / Africa

West African Allies Call for International Forces in Mali

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reads his opening address during an ECOWAS Summit gathering west African leaders to plot a military strategy to wrest control of northern Mali from Islamist groups as fears grow over the risks they pose to the region a
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reads his opening address during an ECOWAS Summit gathering west African leaders to plot a military strategy to wrest control of northern Mali from Islamist groups as fears grow over the risks they pose to the region a
Heather Murdock
West African leaders agreed Sunday to formally request international military forces be deployed to Mali, where large areas of the country have been controlled by rebel groups since April.  

The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, says the group wants more than 3,000 soldiers to get ready for imminent deployment in Mali. 

After three days of talks, West African leaders signed a formal agreement calling on the United Nations and the African Union to support an African-led international military intervention in Mali to take down rebel groups that control the north. 

ECOWAS president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo read the agreement, saying “force may be indispensable” to take down “terrorist and transnational criminal networks” in Mali. 

He said operational plans for a military invasion are firmly in place, but gives few specifics. He says most of the troops will come from West Africa, and several countries have already committed material support. 

The document also calls for negotiations, but warns that rebel groups have to be committed to Mali as one nation under a secular, central government. 

Ansar Dine is one of the three main al-Qaida-linked militant groups that have controlled northern Mali since April.  Last week, the group said it was interested in a "frank and constructive dialogue" with Malian authorities. 

In a speech earlier Sunday, the head of the United Nations office for West Africa, Said Djinnit, urged Malian authorities to speed up plans for negotiations with militant groups.

“All avenues for dialogue and negotiations with Malian rebel groups should be explored as a matter of priority to avoid as much as possible confrontation and its implications," he said. 

Ansar Dine is known for its harsh interpretation of Islamic law that calls for the execution of adulterers and the mutilation of thieves.  Last week the group also said it would allow humanitarian workers to operate in areas it controls. 

But with several militant groups competing for power, it is not clear if negotiations with one group will produce a positive result. 

Djinnit said that credible preparations for invasion could help bring rebel groups to the table. “It is also important send a strong signal to the concerned groups in northern Mali, that the window of opportunity to join negotiations shall not be open-ended," he said. 

In March, a military coup toppled the Malian government. During the chaos, separatists and al-Qaida-linked fundamentalists took over the northern part of the country. Once known for tourism and democracy, Mali is now known as one of the most dangerous places on earth. 

As the summit meeting in Nigeria wound down, a Malian reporter asked on behalf of the people in northern Mali if the leaders thought troops would come fast to protect them.

The answer?  Negotiations continue but “nothing is definite.”

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid