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 Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid