Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has appointed President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso as Mediator in the Malian crisis, which prompted the military coup that toppled the country's elected government last week.
President Compaore has the mandate ''to interact with all concerned stakeholders with a view to engaging them in a fruitful dialogue for the restoration of peace in the country, taking into account all the ongoing efforts in this direction'', ECOWAS leaders said in a communique after their one-day extra-ordinary summit in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on Tuesday.
The summit reiterated its ''firm condemnation'' of the atrocities being perpetrated by the Tuareg rebels, who launched their rebellion in the northern part of the country in January and have so far taken a large swath of territory and forced over 200,000 people to flee their homes.
''Summit condemns the opportunistic decision by the armed groups to take undue advantage of the constitutional crisis in Mali to intensify attacks and capture more territory in the north, and reaffirms ECOWAS’ determination to take all necessary measures in support of efforts aimed at safeguarding the territorial integrity of Mali.
''Authority once more demands an immediate cease-fire throughout Mali, and calls on all armed groups operating in the country to seek redress of grievances through dialogue within the framework of the territorial integrity of Mali.
''In the event the armed groups fail to comply with these Decisions, Summit shall take all necessary measures to end the rebellion and ensure the territorial integrity of Mali, including the use of force,'' said the communique, which was obtained by PANA here Wednesday.
The low-ranking soldiers who seized power in Mali have said they were pushed to do so by their government's poor handling of the rebellion, especially the lack of necessary weapons to confront the well-armed rebels.
-0- PANA SEG 28Mar2012