Ecowas agrees to 3 300-strong force for Mali

"We foresee 3 300 soldiers for a timeframe of one year," Alassane Ouattara, Côte d'Ivoire's president, told journalists after the summit of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

The troops would come primarily from Ecowas nations, but possibly from countries outside the bloc as well, he said.

Ouattara said he hoped UN Security Council approval could come in late November or early December, which would allow the force to be put in place days afterward. The plan is to be transferred to the UN through the African Union.

"We have countries that are offering battalions, others companies," he said.

Ecowas countries he named were Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo.

From outside of Ecowas, "Chad could also participate. We have had contacts with other countries – Mauritania, South Africa."

The summit's final communique stressed that dialogue remained "the preferred option in the resolution of the political crisis in Mali.

"However, regarding the security situation, recourse to force may be indispensable in order to dismantle terrorist and transnational criminal networks that pose a threat to international peace and security," it said.

Fears grow
An Ecowas source had said earlier that regional military chiefs were proposing a total of 5 500 troops, with some 3 200 from the West African bloc and the rest from elsewhere.

It was not clear whether heads of state had rejected the proposal of if the bloc would continue efforts to reach that level.


The final communique urged "member states to concretise their commitments to provide military and logistical contributions to the Ecowas military efforts".

Sunday's summit came as fears grow over the risks the extremists pose to the region and beyond.

A number of African leaders have spoken of the dangers of continued insecurity in the area given the safe haven a continued occupation of Mali's north could provide to al-Qaeda-linked groups and criminal gangs.

However, Ecowas commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo has said the bloc should pursue a dual approach of dialogue and military pressure.

The UN special envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, a former prime minister of Italy and ex-president of the European Commission, has said every effort would be made to avoid military intervention.

Some analysts have questioned whether a negotiated solution is possible with Islamist extremists intent on establishing a theocratic state.

Mali rapidly imploded after a coup in Bamako in March allowed Tuareg desert nomads, who had relaunched a decades-old rebellion for independence, to seize the main towns in the north with the help of Islamist allies.

The secular separatists were quickly sidelined by the Islamists, who had little interest in their aspirations for an independent homeland.

They set about implementing their version of strict sharia law, meting out punishments including stonings and destroying World Heritage shrines. – Sapa-AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author
Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday