Ecowas agrees to send 8 000 troops to Mali
01 March 2013, 12:20
Yamoussoukro/Bamako - West African bloc Ecowas on Thursday
agreed to double the number of troops it would send to Mali, to 8 000, as a
two-day regional summit ended in Ivory Coast.
The 15-member Economic Community of West African States
"will ensure that the immediate needs concerning the deployment of
additional troops and logistics and budget increase are met and without
delay," commission chairperson Kadre Desire Ouedraogo said.
The Ecowas Mediation and Security Council had on Monday
called to increase the number of West African soldiers to be deployed with the
African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) to 8 000 troops
instead of the planned 3 700.
A French-led international operation engaging Mali's
military and troops from West African countries was launched on January 11,
aiming at flushing out Islamist rebels from Mali's north.
Chadian President Idris Deby on Wednesday urged the regional
army chiefs to speed up troop deployment, and the UN Secretary General for West
Africa Said Djinnit said the United Nations was mulling the deployment of a
peacekeeping force to Mali "at the appropriate time".
Ouedraogo urged Mali's government to ensure reconciliation
and hold a national forum including the northern communities.
Meanwhile, the Malian army said it would investigate five
soldiers accused of committing atrocities against civilians.
"The five soldiers were said by local people to be
linked to the disappearance of some Arab merchants in Timbuktu," army spokesperson
Captain Modibo Traore said.
Abuses against civilians
He said the soldiers had been taken to the capital Bamako
and "will be brought before the disciplinary board, which will decide
their fate if the charges against them were well-founded".
Mali's army has been accused by international human rights
organisations of having committed abuses against civilians, especially those of
Arab and Tuareg origin.
"I think the political authorities must now establish a
national commission of inquiry into human rights issues," Traore said.
Human Rights Watch last week called on Mali's government to
"investigate and prosecute soldiers responsible for torture, summary
executions, and enforced disappearances of suspected Islamist rebels and
alleged collaborators since the fighting".
On Thursday, Germany's parliament authorised with an
overwhelming majority a 330-member military contingent for the intervention.
The country has already sent three transport aircraft to
shift French and West African troops, and is set to deploy military trainers, a
medical team and an aerial refuelling plane to Mali.