EU to back stabilisation force in Mali
24 July 2012, 07:01
Brussels - The European Union said on Monday it was ready to back the
deployment of an African stabilisation force under UN mandate in Mali,
and threatened sanctions against those threatening democratic change.
foreign ministers gathered in Brussels asked EU High Representative for
Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton to make "concrete proposals" on support
for "the possible deployment of a well-prepared Ecowas (Economic
Community of West African States) force in Mali, under a UN mandate and
in conjunction with a government of national unity and the African
In March, Mali was rocked by a coup, which opened the way
for Tuareg forces and Islamist groups, including al Qaeda-linked
groups, to take control of the desert northern part of the vast west
The Islamists then sidelined the main Tuareg
separatist group and took charge of the main northern towns, in some of
which they have laid down strict Islamic shari'ah law.
in the capital Bamako are trying to form a national unity government
and the putschists have stood down from power, though they remain an
Malian authorities have sought aid from Ecowas to
help reclaim the north, but the United Nations has thus far withheld a
mandate, demanding more clarity from the 15-nation west African body on
"The EU is ready to enact targeted sanctions against
those who continue to threaten the process of a democratic transition,
peace, security and the stability of Mali," added the joint declaration
issued by the foreign ministers.
The text expressed particular
concern over the situation in northern Mali, an area bigger than France,
which it said was controlled by terrorist groups and violent extremists
"working in conjunction with international criminal circles, including
the drug trade".