West African leaders to hold Mali summit

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iol pic afr mali dine REUTERS File photo: Militiaman from the Ansar Dine Islamic group, who said they come from Niger and Mauritania, ride on a vehicle at Kidal in northeastern Mali.

Dakar - West African heads of state will meet in Abuja on Sunday to adopt a plan for their troops to recapture northern Mali from radical Islamists, the grouping said in a statement on Thursday.

Once approved by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders, the strategy “will then be transmitted through the African Union, before November 15, to the UN Security Council.”

The Security Council on October 12 approved a resolution urging ECOWAS to speed up preparations for a military intervention to help recapture northern Mali. It gave ECOWAS until November 26 to clarify its plans.

ECOWAS army chiefs on Tuesday adopted the military blueprint, which was drawn up with the help of experts from the Europeon Union, AU, UN and the region,

The details of the plan have not been made public, but delegates say over 4 000 troops could be sent into Mali, whose vast arid north has been occupied by Al Qaeda-linked extremists for seven months.

The UN wants clarification on the composition of the proposed force, the level of participation from the various west African nations, the financing of the operation and the military means to carry it out.

The ECOWAS statement said the bloc's military brass has asked for a planning committee to be set up to “refine the harmonised plan” and organise a donors conference. - Sapa-AFP


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