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Force inevitable if Mali talks fail, says Nigeria

ENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday warned that regional troops would definitely intervene in the occupied area if negotiations with extremists in Mali  failed to yield a solution.

This came days after Mali’s new Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly said that winning back the Islamist-occupied north was the top priority of a unity government which was formed on orders from West African mediators.

The armed Islamist groups have openly allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) and are enforcing strict sharia law.

On Wednesday they banned all secular music from radio waves in the north, the latest move after recently cutting off the hand of a thief and stoning to death an unmarried couple.

In the fabled city of Timbuktu they smashed ancient Muslim shrines, declaring them “idolatrous” just days after the UNESCO World Heritage site was put on an endangered list.

Jonathan, who was on a 24-hour visit to Senegal yesterday after talks with his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, said: “Diplomacy or negotiation is the first, military intervention is extreme. When negotiation fails that is the time you can talk about military intervention.”

He said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would also need a United Nations mandate before stepping in.

“ECOWAS will definitely intervene militarily, but … first and foremost we are negotiating. We must stabilise the government … I believe through negotiation we will be able to resolve the crisis, we don’t necessarily need military intervention … but if that fails we will have no option.”

Mali this week formed a new unity government on orders from ECOWAS in the hopes it would be better able to deal with the country’s crises, and make an official request for military backup from the regional troops.

The new government, announced by presidential decree on Monday, saw six ministers booted out of their positions in an administration formed to take over from a military junta that took power in a March coup.

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Posted by on Aug 23 2012. Filed under Africa & World Politics, African Union (AU), ECOWAS, Latest Politics, United Nations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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