Ecowas to deploy troops in northern Mali
The Economic Community of West African States, known as Ecowas, has reached an agreement over the deployment of some 3300 soldiers to northern Mali.

Regional leaders made the decision after the United Nations Security Council called for a military intervention plan to be presented after 45 days from 12 October.

Ecowas troops will be tasked with recapturing the vast northern desert enclave of Mali, from the control of Islamist extremist who seized the territory in March, after a coup in the capital Bamako, caused chaos.

The Ecowas force will be made up of troops from Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso.

During the recent summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja, Ecowas chair, Ivorian President, Alassane Ouattara, told reporters that the regional bloc was prepared and ready to use force to "dismantle terrorist and transnational criminal networks".

President Ouattara added that the soldiers will be deployed once approval from the Security Council, with the hope of the UN approving the plan soon.

The Malian military have confirmed the decision, outlining the plan over a six-month period, including the establishment of training facilities and a headquarters base in the countries south, before combat missions are undertaken into the north.

Ecowas leaders issued a statement saying that dialogue and negotiations remains the most important option, however a military force was needed to break up the extremist and radical networks existing in the north of Mali.

The statement released by the regional bloc said that the Islamist groups controlling the north of the country "pose a threat to international peace and security".

Meanwhile, foreign and regional powers have been divided over the best approach to solving the crisis in Mali.

France, the countries former colonial authority, has backed calls for a military intervention, saying that if no action is taken, it would pose a serious security risk and threat in the region.

However, Mali's northern neighbour, Algeria, however believe that a military deployment in northern Mali could worsen the situation.
Last Modified: 2012-11-12 12:00:06
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