ECOWAS Ready to Intervene in Mali

Posted August 1st, 2012 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has renewed its pledge to send troops to Mali to help the government recapture the north from Islamist groups.

ECOWAS Commission President Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo said the regional bloc is ready to deploy its standby force to Mali once the country's interim government makes the request.

The pledge came in a statement welcoming last week's return of Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore, who went abroad for medical treatment after being beaten by anti-government protesters.

On Sunday, Mr. Traore announced plans to overhaul his transitional government and request foreign help in retaking the northern region.

ECOWAS political director Abdel-Fatau Musah said a joint ECOWAS, U.N. and African Union team is set to visit Mali to assess progress toward forming the new government.

He told VOA that Mali's former military junta is trying to “pull strings from behind the scene,” after handing power to the civilian-led interim government following a March coup.

“The situation offers a cocktail of confusion and uncertainty and there is a need for such a mission to ensure that the transition is put on an even keel,” he said.

President Traore is expected to request a U.N. Security Council mandate for a regional intervention force. ECOWAS has said the lack of a U.N. mandate is its only hurdle in the deployment of its 3,000-member military force to Mali.

However, some Malians have been resistant to the idea of foreign troops on their soil.

Regional leaders had imposed a Tuesday deadline on Mali to form a unity government. The French News Agency says the leaders have given the country's interim leaders an extension of at least 10 days.