ECOWAS holds extra-ordinary summit on Mali Wed

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is to hold an extra-ordinary summit on Mali on Wednesday in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, PANA learnt from here Saturday.

The summit will deliberate on the crisis in Mali, where rebel Islamist groups have renewed their fighting against Malian troops.

Though the rebels were reported to have taken the central city of Konna in the Mopti Region, fresh reports said the Malian troops have retaken control of the strategic town, located 600 kilometres north of the capital, Bamako.

ECOWAS Chairman and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara on Friday night ordered the immediate deployment of West African troops to Mali, following the resurgence of fighting by the rebel groups which took control of the northern part of the country last year.

The order means that the 3,500-strong ECOWAS component of the African-led International Support Mission for Mali (AFISMA) is to start deploying to Mali immediately.

''At least four nations are ready to deploy now, and the troops are expected to arrive in Mali anytime,'' an ECOWAS source told PANA on the condition of anonymity Saturday.

Reports that some West African troops are already on ground have yet to be confirmed.

On Friday night, French President Francois Hollande confirmed that French troops have arrived in Mali to assist Malian troops, adding that the operation would last as long as necessary.

The UN Security Council authorised the deployment of AFISMA in December.
-0- PANA SEG/MA 12Jan2013

12 january 2013 13:20:33

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