African Leaders Seeking UN Military Help in Mali

Posted June 8th, 2012 at 1:00 am (UTC-5)
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African leaders meeting in Ivory Coast are calling for United Nations backing for military intervention in northern Mali, which is currently controlled by rebels.

Members of the African Union, the western African group, ECOWAS, and the United Nations Thursday agreed the AU should ask the United Nations Security Council for intervention in restoring Mali's territorial integrity.

The head of ECOWAS, Kadre Desire Quedraogo, says northern Mali is becoming more dangerous and that is why they are not ruling out force to restore order.

“The security implications are such that it is becoming a danger for the whole zone and it's normal that ECOWAS is concerned. We, of course, offered negotiations as a path to an exit from the crisis, but no method is being excluded by ECOWAS to arrive at that end, that's why we are not excluding the use of force.”

Northern Mali fell into the hands of Tuareg and Islamist rebels after Malian soldiers ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure in a March coup. A transitional government formed since then has had no success in establishing influence or security in northern Mali.

Tuareg separatists started attacking army bases in Mali's desert in January, after many Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they had assisted ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The United Nations refugee agency says the conflict has uprooted 130,000 people in and around Mali. Many soldiers died in the conflict.

Tuareg nomads have launched periodic uprisings for greater autonomy in both Mali and Niger.