Back Mali in fight against rebels – Ecowas

2012-03-20 08:48
Bamako - West Africa's top regional decision-making body urged member states on Monday to back Mali with military equipment and logistics in its fight against northern rebels, but also said it would launch mediation efforts within days.

Fighting erupted in Mali's north in mid-January after heavily armed fighters from Libya last year poured into the remote desert zone, where complaints of marginalisation and insecurity have long simmered.

The current uprising, led by Tuareg fighters, is the most heavily armed yet and comes as the region is grappling with the growing threat of fighters linked to al-Qaeda and a food crisis threatening millions with hunger.

Nearly 200 000 people have been displaced by fighting.

"The Commission urges member states and partners to support the government of Mali with logistics and materiel as the country battles to defend its territorial integrity and restore law and order," the 15-nation Ecowas said in a statement.

The Ecowas Commission called on MNLA to observe a ceasefire and warned that Ecowas would take "all necessary measures" to help Mali protect itself, without giving any further details.

The Ecowas statement said it would also launch a mediation process "in the coming days". Separately the pan-continental African Union's top peace body is due to meet in Bamako on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in the Sahel band.

The MNLA rebels - a combination of veterans from Libya's conflict, rebels from previous Malian uprisings and a younger generation of Tuareg activists - have called for the creation of an independent state in Mali's north.

Conflict

Underscoring the complexity of Mali's crisis, Ansar Eddine, one of the groups fighting alongside the MNLA, issued a statement saying that it was not fighting for independence, but to apply sharia law in the country's north.

"We do not want a separate republic but an Islamic republic, the Muslim republic Mali," it said.

The group, which has fought alongside the MNLA but is not part of it, is led by Iyad Ag Ghaly, a leader of previous Tuareg rebellions who has also served as a diplomat and acted as a go-between in hostage negotiations for kidnapped Westerners.

Analysts warn that the combination of the MNLA and Ag Ghaly's men, and the presence of fighters linked to al Qaeda, who also operate in the zone, are likely to complicate any effort to resolve Mali's conflict.

The conflict is also threatening to disrupt Mali's planned April 29 presidential election, after which President Amadou Toumani Toure is due to step down.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in the military barracks town of Kati, just north of Bamako on Monday, complaining about the poor conditions of those fighting in the army.

Witnesses said there was also a protest in the northern town of Gao over the weekend as hundreds of residents demanded the government focus on ensuring security before trying to hold an election.

Read more on:    tuaregs  |  ecowas  |  al-qaeda  |  mali  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something is blocking the flow of things today and it is easy to become frustrated and pessimistic. The problem is that your mind...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.