West Africa Leaders ‘Disturbed’ by UN Report on Mali Army Plan

West African leaders said they were “disturbed by the seeming lack of urgency” about the need for a rapid military intervention in Mali from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Economic Community of West African States “deplores” that recommendations in a report about the Malian crisis published by Ban last week are “not in line with the urgent need for action,” according to a statement published on the 15- member bloc’s website yesterday. Ecowas “believes the situation in northern Mali urgently requires action as well as pro-active measures to restore the territorial integrity of the country.”

African leaders are developing a plan to intervene in Mali, which vies with Tanzania as Africa’s third-biggest gold producer. A coup in March left a power vacuum in Bamako, the capital, that allowed ethnic Touareg rebels to take control of the north, aided by Islamist groups including Ansar ud-Din and al-Qaeda’s African branch.

In a report to the Security Council on Nov. 28, Ban said plans for an African-led intervention force to train Mali’s army and help local troops take back control of the north “need to be developed further.”

“Fundamental questions of how the force would be led, sustained, trained, equipped and financed remain unanswered,” he said. Funding for combat operations should come through “voluntary or bilateral contributions” rather than from the UN, Ban said.

“The United Nations has limited ability to deliver a support package in the near term to a combat force,” he said.

Member states of Ecowas on Nov. 11 committed 3,300 troops to train, equip and prepare about 5,000 Malian soldiers for the fight for control of the north.

The African Union and Ecowas will send diplomats to the UN headquarters in New York to reiterate the need for intervention, according to Ecowas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pauline Bax in Accra at pbax@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

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