News24

West African leaders meet on Mali crisis

2012-06-29 20:10

Yamoussoukro - West African leaders met in the Ivory Coast capital on Friday in a bid to end the crisis in Mali, where rebel groups have seized the north as the government struggles in the wake of a coup.

The summit of the Economic Community of West African States should lead to "additional measures to prevent matters in Mali becoming bogged down", said Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, the current head of Ecowas.

The leaders met as Islamist groups were tightening their grip on the north, while Ecowas plans to send in troops have stalled and the transitional government in Bamako, where a short-lived junta remains influential, seems powerless to act.

Those present included Burkina Faso's president Blaise Compaore, the Ecowas mediator in the Malian crisis, Mahamadou Issoufou, his counterpart in Mali's neighbour Niger, and Cheikh Modibo Diarra, head of the transitional government.

On the agenda were negotiations under way with the rebel groups who took control of the north in March and the possible despatch of an Ecowas force to the region.

The meeting comes in the wake of defeats for the secular separatist Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azad at the hands of the Islamist Ansar Dine in Timbuktu and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) in the city of Gao.