1 February 2013

West Africa: Ecowas Troops to Operate Throughout Mali, Ouattara Tells RFI

Photo: UN Multimedia
UN peacekeepers in an armoured vehicle (file photo).

The west African force in Mali will operate throughout the country in order to allow elections to take place, Côte d'Ivoire's President Alassane Ouattara told RFI at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

Donors have already contributed 333 million of the 695 million euros he asked for at the donors' meeting on Tuesday, he said.

Ouattara, whose country chairs Ecowas, wants all the troops of the force organised by the west African grouping to arrive within 10 days.

"I'm glad to see that more than 3,000 have already been deployed - 1,300 in Bamako, 1,800 in the north along with the Chadian and Nigerian armies," he said.

Another 2,000-2,200 should be deployed immediately, the Ivorian president insisted, and the total of 8,000 should be reached "as quickly as possible".

The troops will be present not just in the north, which French and Malian troops have largely recaptured from Islamist militias over the past few weeks, but throughout the country.

"We have to stabilise the situation so as to make democratic elections and, in the long term, the training of the Malian army possible," Ouattara says.

The UN, France and other Western powers are anxious to see elections to give legitimacy to the Malian government, following the coup d'état in March last year.

Rejecting the idea that the French intervention shows that Africans are still not able to settle their own problems, Ouattara nevertheless revealed that he had phoned President François Hollande to thank him for taking action "and especially for the speed of his intervention".

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