The military chiefs of 15 West African nations have begun deliberations in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to “finalize a road map” for an armed intervention in Mali, whose northern half is occupied by Islamists linked to al-Qaeda.
Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, left, asked the Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, on Sept. 1 for air support to destroy rebel bases and for five battalions to help reconquer northern towns.
The meeting’s agenda includes a review of that request and a presentation of a deployment plan. In opening remarks, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, the Ecowas political commissioner, said she was optimistic that officials could overcome “disagreements” on the proposed first phase of the mission, which involves stabilizing southern Mali, where a coup occurred in March. The coup leader has refused to accept a foreign force.