West Africa: Ecowas Envoy Visits Algeria

ecoAlgiers — Algeria and Burkina Faso discuss how to isolate terrorist groups in northern Mali.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Monday (October 22nd) dispatched Burkinabe Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole to Algiers to discuss the situation in Mali.

The envoy held talks with Algerian officials about how to isolate terrorist groups and encourage those rebels that seek to hold talks with Bamako.

“We began consultations to help the Malian authorities to manage this crisis in a better way,” Bassole said after the meetings. “We’re still sure that we as representatives of ECOWAS are in a course of dialogue with Algeria, a big neighbour and indispensable regional actor, and that through consultations, we can help Mali’s authorities in a better way.”

Algeria and Burkina Faso can help Mali “implement the roadmap which the international community has recently prepared by adopting the strategic vision and the recent UN Security Council resolution 2071 that draws the guidelines for resolving the crisis”, he added.

Burkina Faso has strong ties with the leaders of National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), as well as with Ansar al-Din. The West African country seeks to take advantage of these relations to forge ahead with the negotiation option between these groups and the Malian government.

A while ago, Algeria also received representatives of Touaregs and Ansar al-Din to discuss the possibility of holding dialogue with the interim authority in Bamako.

The head of Burkinabé diplomacy expressed his hope that “dialogue would be launched with the armed Malian Touareg groups, especially those who carried arms to make political demands” in order to reunite Mali politically and militarily.

“Counter-terrorism efforts can only be effective with the realisation of these conditions,” Bassole said, adding that it would take time and require co-operation.

The two sides agreed to continue consultations over the next days to discuss the possible options. Algeria proposed a dual approach represented in encouraging dialogue with the parties that renounce terrorism, while preparing for confrontation with the extremist Islamist groups that control northern Mali.

Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci confirmed that a Bamako meeting held on October 19th helped establish a “general and comprehensive” strategic vision for resolving the crisis in northern Mali “that was agreed upon by all parties”.

“The goal of the Bamako meeting was to draw up a strategic vision for resolving the Mali crisis after the issue of UN Security Council resolution 2071,” he said on Monday (October 22nd) after hosting his Egyptian counterpart, Mohammed Kamel Amr.

“The document which was prepared by the African Union and which we examined together in Bamako is balanced, and gives the strategic comprehensive vision for resolving the crisis in Mali,” Medelci said. “The solution is primarily based on providing assistance to the Malian government and authorities to recover their strength and deploy their forces across the Malian republic soil.”

All participants in the Bamako meeting concurred that “counter-terrorism would remain everyone’s priority, and that it would be done using all means”.

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