The President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kadre Ouedraogo, said in Abuja on Friday that there was an urgent need to take steps to to stop "criminal" practices of terrorists in Mali.
Ouedraogo, who made the remark at a one-day extra-ordinary meeting of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council, said strong international mobilisation was required to deal with the rebels, who had occupied northern Mali.
He described the meeting of the council as crucial to the decision that would lead to the deployment of an international force in Mali in line with the UN Security Council resolutions.
"In the case of Mali, we are indeed commencing the last stages in our efforts, which through the positions defended by the Council, have contributed to the unanimous adoption of Resolutions 2056 and 2071 of the Security Council of the UN," he said.
Resolution 2071 is devoted to the mobilisation of international community for Mali. According to him, it reflected the request of the Malian authorities' for an international force to regain the area from the rebels and combat terrorism.
Ouedraogo said that wish informed the meeting on Oct. 24 by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to adopt a document for the resolution of the crisis.
He said the document provided the structural framework for a holistic international approach to the crisis in Mali, adding that what was left now was for the concept to clearly define the stages, procedures and the method for the planned deployment of the forces.
"This means that today's meeting is crucial in the decision making process of the UN Security Council," he said.
The ECOWAS president said the decision that would be adopted by the meeting would be submitted to the AU Peace and Security Council for its full backing in a new Resolution for the much-awaited deployment of international force.
He said that though ECOWAS considered that political dialogue should take precedence in resolving the conflict, such a dialogue should be with those who respect fundamental human rights, national unity and reject terrorism.
Ouedraogo condemned the Oct. 21 attempt by a rebel group in Guinea Bissau to disrupt the relative calm in that country since the beginning of its transition process.
He called for additional measures to ensure the integrity of the process that could lead to a consensus-based, free and transparent general elections in 2013.
Earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Olugbenga Ashiru, said that the crimes being committed by the rebels in northern Mali was unacceptable and urged the meeting to come out with strategy to address it.
Ashiru, who was represented by the Minister for State Nurudeen Mohammed, said the rebels had lost overtures for dialogue and were engaging in criminal activities, including conscription of children, illicit arms and human trafficking.
"These fuel violence and terror across regions and retard economic development; this is clearly an unacceptable scenario to the international community," he said.