ECOWAS troops with UN backing may soon be on their way into northern Mali following agreement at the UN.
West Africa’s regional bloc, meeting in Nigeria, agreed on Sunday to send 3300 troops, mostly from Nigeria, Burkina Fasso and Niger, and want to have battle plans ready for UN approval by the end of November.
The force may be joined by other African nations, and two or three non-African states.
“We are waiting for the green light from the UN Security Council which we expect hopefully by the end of this month, or the beginning of December, and the intervention forces will be in place a few days after that,” said ECOWAS chairman and Ivory Coast President Alassane Outtara.
The Malian government has appealed for help after losing the northern half of its territory to a now-fractured alliance of Tuareg rebels and Islamic militants.
The former, along with Islamic group Ansar Dine are now in talks after infighting with al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.
The Tuaregs rose after what they claim is years of neglect from Bamako, while Ansar Dine wants Sharia law for Mali’s muslim north, but neither seem to want al-Qaeda taking over their struggle.