ABUJA, Nov. 11 (Xinhua)
West African nations agreed on Sunday to deploy 3,300 troops to help recapture northern Mali, which was seized by Islamist extremists more than six months ago, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said.
The agreement, part of battle plans that
will be sent for United Nations approval by the end of this month, was reached at
an extraordinary summit of the bloc in
the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
“We foresee 3,300 soldiers for a
timeframe of one year,” ECOWAS
Chairman Alassane Ouattara, who is also
president of Cote d’Ivorie, told reporters
after the summit. He said the troops would mostly come from Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso, adding that other West African nations and some non-African countries may also contribute to the forces. “We have countries that are offering battalions, others companies,” Ouattara said.
The soldiers could be deployed as soon as the United Nations approves the military plan, drawn up by experts from Africa, the world body and Europe in the Malian capital of Bamako last week.Ouattara said he hoped the approval
could come in late November or early
December, so that the troops could be put in place days afterward.
Mali has been dealing with diverse
security, economic, political and
humanitarian challenges since January
after fighting between government
forces and al-Qaida-linked rebels broke out in the northern part of the country.
The United Nations recently asked the African Union and ECOWAS to produce a detailed plan for a possible military
intervention in northern Mali.