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France calls for military intervention in Mali

France calls for military intervention in Mali
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Six months after Tuareg and Islamist rebels seized control in northern Mali, the United Nations is still divided on its response to the crisis in the West African state.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly, France has called for a regional military intervention.

Mali’s Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra said the West African troops agreed by regional bloc ECOWAS would assist its own army:

“The government of Mali would like to see the immediate presence of this force to support the defence and security forces of Mali in carrying out their noble mission of recovering and maintaining territorial integrity and protecting people and property.”

But the plan is unlikely to be adopted just yet, say commentators. Diplomats want a more detailed strategy. The US insists an elected government is in place first.

In July, the Security Council threw its support behind regional political efforts to solve the crisis.

In March, a month-long military coup created a power vacuum that allowed rebels to capture large areas in the north of Mali. That rebellion has since been hijacked by Islamist militants. The military stepped down allowing the formation of an interim government.

The world heritage town of Timbuktu, which is now under rebel control, has seen many of its historic Islamic shrines destroyed.