AU and Chad press UN over Mali force

2012-12-04 22:22

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N'Djamena - The acting head of the African Union and the president of Chad issued a joint call on Tuesday for the United Nations to rapidly authorise an intervention force for Islamist-held northern Mali.

The call came after a meeting between Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, acting head of the African Union, his Chad counterpart Idriss Deby as well as Mali's Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, the Chadian foreign ministry said.

Boni Yayi and Deby appealed to the UN to "authorise urgently the deployment of the international force in Mali" and "call on the international community to use all legal means to find a solution".

The regional Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has said it is ready to deploy 3 300 men to try to oust the armed Islamists from northern Mali once it has UN approval.

The Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels seized the vast northern region of Mali in the chaotic aftermath of a coup in Bamako in March but the Islamists have since ousted the Tuareg.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, who is mediating in the crisis, was due on Tuesday to hold his first meetings with envoys from Bamako and Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) as well as Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA).

Leaders of 15 Ecowas nations last month adopted a plan to wrest back control of northern Mali and backed the sending of an international force of 3 300 troops for one year.

"It's up to the Malians to tell us as clearly as possible what kind of support they expect from Africa, beyond what has been done by Ecowas, and what kind of contribution they expect of Chad," Deby told reporters on Tuesday.

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