The Malian government and leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, have reached an agreement on the deployment of an African military force to help liberate northern Mali, which has been occupied by militants for six months.
Following the collapse of the government after a military coup, armed Islamic groups and Tuareg rebels have occupied and taken control of Northern Mali.
The agreement to deploy the troops was signed on Sunday in the Malian capital, Bamako, at the end of a meeting between the Malian interim President, Dioncounda Traoré; and the Defence Ministers for Ivory Coast and Mali – Paul Koffi, and Yamoussa Camara.
Under the agreement, the ECOWAS force will be deployed to Mali, with its general headquarters in Bamako, in order to coordinate the operations aimed at liberating northern Mali.
An ECOWAS mission expected to arrive shortly in the Malian capital will specify the details for the deployment of the force.
On Saturday, the 52nd anniversary of Mali’s independence, the Malian Defence Minister, Mr. Camara, went to Abidjan to deliver a message from President Traore to his Ivorian counterpart and incumbent President of the ECOWAS.
In early September, the Malian President sent a letter to his Ivorian counterpart to solicit the help of ECOWAS to retake northern Mali.
Mali’s civil society and opposition parties had spoken out against Ivorian support saying the Malian Army was equipped enough to disperse the many rebel groups in the region, who are determined to implement Sharia Law across the country. The situation worsened with the ousting of President Amadou Toumani Toure on May 22.