Mali interim president to attend crisis talks in Burkina

4th July 2012, Comments 0 comments

Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore, who has not returned to his country since being attacked in his office in May, will travel to Burkina Faso from France Thursday for a regional summit.

"President Dioncounda Traore will arrive tomorrow in Ouagadougou at the invitation of the contact group's heads of state for Saturday's summit," Burkinabe Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole told AFP Wednesday.

He said Traore would return to Paris after the summit because he had to undergo more medical tests.

The 70-year-old Traore was attacked by a mob inside his office on May 21, the eve of the official start of a transition period for a return to democratic rule in the troubled west African country after a March coup.

He underwent surgery for an orbital fracture caused by a hammer, according to one of his aides.

Renegade soldiers toppled the elected president on March 22 but, under intense regional and international pressure, later agreed to hand power back to a civilian administration.

Traore was attacked by a group of people backing the coup.

Mali has continued its descent into chaos since then and is de facto split in two, with Islamist groups linked to Al-Qaeda controlling the north, a territory larger than France or Texas.

The world has reacted with horror at the Islamists' strict implementation of sharia in the north and the destruction over the past few days of ancient shrines in the fabled city of Timbuktu.

Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore was appointed chief mediator by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The regional bloc says it has a force of 3,300 soldiers ready to deploy to Mali and try to recapture the desert north.

Guinean President Alpha Conde told AFP on Tuesday that the bloc wants the request for a military intervention to come from a broader unity government in Mali, an issue leaders hope to settle on Saturday in Ouagadougou.

© 2012 AFP

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