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By Godfrey Olukya   12-11-2012

West African leaders under their umbrella organization ECOWAS have at last agreed to deployment of an African led international force to liberate northern Mali from Islamists.

Early this year, north Mali fell into the hands of Islamist groups after a military coup toppled the government. In some parts of the north Sharia law has been introduced.

The leaders met yesterday in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja where they  adopted a harmonized Concept of Operations for the deployment an African-led international force in Mali

They also reportedly requested the African Union Peace and Security Council to endorse same for onward transmission to the UN within the 45-day deadline of the UN Security Council Resolution 2071. They also urged the UN Security Council to examine the Concept with a view to authorizing the deployment of the international military force in Mali in conformity with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

The concept was developed by military experts from ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union, the UN and other partners during a meeting in Bamako and subsequently reviewed by the regional Chiefs of Defence Staff at their meeting held also in Mali before the ministers of the mediation and security council considered it during a one day meeting in Abuja on Friday 9th November 2012.

They instructed ECOWAS Commission to maintain the ECOWAS Stand-by Force in a high state of readiness for imminent deployment, and called upon member states to contribute troops.

They said Mali has to play the lead role in liberating her North and resolved that the Interim President, Prime Minister and other members of the Transitional Government shall not be eligible to contest the next presidential election in Mali.

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