MALI REJECTS FOREIGN TROOPS TO COMBAT ISLAMISTS IN THE NORTH
Mali does not want African troops to be deployed into combat against Islamic extremists occupying its north, but seeks logistical support from its neighbours, according to a letter seen by AFP on Thursday.
The letter from interim president Dioncounda Traore to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), dated September 1, requests “help from ECOWAS to recover occupied territories in the north and the fight against terrorism.”
“However the deployment of a constituted police unit or combatant military troops is not applicable,” read the three page letter.
On Tuesday night France’s special representative for the Sahel region Jean Felix-Paganon announced that Traore had formally requested “a military contribution to stabilise the country and especially reconquer the north.”
It was understood that Mali would be taking advantage of 3,300 standby troops made available by the regional bloc in April to help it win back its north which has been occupied by Islamic extremists for over five months.
A joint statement from Ivorian leader Alassane Ouattara, who is the current holder of the ECOWAS rotating presidency, and interim Ghanaian leader John Dramani Mahama hailed the request from Mali’s authorities.
“They expressed their appreciation of the request by Malian authorities addressed to ECOWAS for the sending of a west African force to the north of Mali,” read the statement issued after a meeting between the two leaders.