ICoast leader urges broader international effort in Mali

19th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara on Saturday called for a broader international commitment to the military operations in Mali, where Malian and French forces are battling Islamist militant groups that control the country's vast arid north.

"The hour has come for a broader commitment by the major powers and more countries and organisations to the military operations to show greater solidarity with France and Africa in the total and multi-faceted war against terrorism in Mali," said Ouattara, who is also current head of the regional bloc ECOWAS, holding a summit on expediting an African force to come to Mali's aid.

"We must speed up the re-establishment of Mali's territorial integrity with the logistical support of our partners ... (and) go beyond our current deployment numbers," he added.

He also called for international financial support for the African nations involved in the Mali effort.

Promising the "inevitable" defeat of the rebels, Ouattara also urged political efforts including the adoption of a transition roadmap by Malian authorities and the launch of "true national dialogue" to address the root causes of the conflict.

"No region in the world will ever be safe if the Sahel falls," he said.

Some 2,000 members of MISMA (the International Mission for Mali Assistance), the African intervention force, are expected to be deployed by January 26.

About 100 soldiers from Togo and Nigeria have already arrived in Bamako, and another 30 or so from Benin are en route to join them.

In all, about 5,800 African soldiers are due to be deployed in Mali with the aim of eventually taking over from the French fighting forces.

© 2013 AFP

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