Pan-African peacekeeper force poised for Mali

Rival Muslim groups control the northern region of Mali.

"Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, is engaged in raising the morale of the army to prepare it for a possible intervention in the north. Last weekend he traveled to the Tibou region to meet military forces in the area " saids, a spokesman for the Catholic bishops of Mali. The central African nation remains divided, while the northern portion remains in the control of contending armed groups. "The Arabs of the north have not yet chosen a field where to draw up. This is why they have met in Mauritania to see what position to adopt, whether to draw up with the Islamists or not, "said Fr. Dembele.

As to whether negotiations may be in the offing for representatives of the government based in Bamako, the capital city, and the contending northern parties, Fr Dembele said, "There is no official news about it, but it is possible that there are also representatives of the authorities in Bamako."

After the failure of the agreement between the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA), formed by ostensibly independent lay Muslims, and the Islamists of the Ansar Dine terrorists (that wish to extend Muslim 'sharia' law to the entire country) for the establishment of an Islamic state in the north of Mali, the division between the two movements seems to have deepened. "The gap between the two main movements that control the north of Mali could favor a possible military intervention of the army of Bamako with the support of a pan-African force," said the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Mali."

Said Fr. Dembele, "It is known that the President of the African Union, the President of Benin, Thomas Yayi Boni, is working to enable a military force to be sent to Mali with UN support. Burkina Faso, Niger and Ivory Coast have already given their agreement in principle to participate in this military force. But many details are still to be defined before a military mission is deployed in the African country." 

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