World Bulletin/News Desk
West African leaders urged Mali's politicians on Saturday to urgently form a national unity government and request U.N. backing for troops from the ECOWAS regional bloc to help in the fight against militants occupying the north.
Once seen as an example of African democracy, Mali was plunged into chaos in March after troops toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled separatist Tuareg rebels to seize nearly two-thirds of the country.
The Ansar Dine and other militant groups have since hijacked the uprising and now control Mali's desert north, which includes the regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu where historic and religious sites have been destroyed in recent days.
West African leaders have been trying to help Malian political leaders in the capital Bamako to set aside their differences and tackle the security problems in the north.
The presidents of Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast, Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso said in a statement after a meeting that Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, should "promptly send a request to ECOWAS and the U.N., asking for the deployment of an ECOWAS force to support the Malian army".
African officials have said previously that Nigeria, Niger and Senegal have pledged to provide the core of a 3,270-member force whose mission would be to bolster Mali's fragmented army and stabilise political institutions, and then tackle the rebel-held north if talks failed.
Traore, recovering in Paris from a fractured skull after being attacked by a crowd in his office in May, did not attend the meeting.
"Mali's political leaders should make proposals to the interim president to form a national unity government by July 31, which would be responsible for the implementation of a roadmap out of the crisis," said the West African presidents.
They said security measures should be put in place to guarantee the safe return and protection of Traore.
"We feel that the situation of institutions in Bamako is very fragile, while that in the north of Mali is fast deteriorating," said Blaise Compaore, president of Burkina Faso and host of the meeting.
The six presidents asked the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes in northern Mali.
The White House hopefuls sparred over temperament, judgment, trade, terrorism and other issues in a televised match-up Monday night that seemed to have gone in favor of the Democrat Clinton.
Grand Mufti Othman Battikh on Monday called on Tunisians to "dedicate all their efforts to working and studying" and to "abandon untimely protests and sit-ins hindering work and production".
Ismael Mohammed Shosi was suspected of killing National Intelligence Service officer in Mombasa in July 2015
Last month, the Tobruk-based parliament refused to give confidence to the UN-backed unity government
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi ordered and participated in destruction of ancient mausoleums in Timbuktu, court says
16 security personnel, 14 militiamen and 6 civilians have been killed so far in clashes
Iraqi authorities blame the violence on the ISIL extremist group
No-one was injured in the blasts late Monday in a city which has become a hotspot for far-right protests amid Germany's huge migrant influx.
Asked if Britain could veto the plans while it still remains a member of the European Union ahead of Brexit, Fallon said: "There is no majority here for a EU army."
The Prosecution of Bosnia-Herzegovina has summoned RS President Milorad Dodik for the banned referendum on Sunday
Ammunition depot and shelters in Qandil Mountains hit, 'several terrorists killed', according to military source
THE Italian government today announced the controversial referendum on constitutional reform which could shape the future of the EU is set for December 4.
Latino, Muslim voters share their thoughts on first presidential debate
A former Romanian ex-minister will step down from parliament after being involved in a number of scandals, including the death of a police motorcyclist
Danish nationalist party leader encourages 'asylum spray' as self-defense against refugees
Energy Minister Albayrak warns of aging Metsamor nuclear power plant near Turkish border at IAEA conference