Call for global support in Mali's anti-terror fight

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2013, 4:43am


West African leaders yesterday urged greater global involvement in Mali as they met to speed up the deployment of regional troops to support a French-backed offensive against an Islamist onslaught.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also attended the emergency summit, held in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan.

Fabius said the Africans should take over "as soon as possible", adding that this was "the aim of our meeting".

"France was obliged to intervene very, very rapidly, otherwise there would have been no more Mali," he said on arrival in Abidjan. "But it is well understood that it is the Africans who must pick up the baton."

The rebels control the vast arid north, sparking fears that it may become a haven for Islamist militants and threaten security in the region and overseas.

France said it had 2,000 of the 2,500 promised troops on the ground in Mali.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who leads the Economic Community of West African States regional bloc, said it was high time other countries did their bit. He called for "greater solidarity with France and Africa in the total and multi-faceted war against terrorism in Mali".