PARIS: A West African military force assembled to intervene against Mali rebels is ready to be deployed as soon as the United Nations issues a green light, a senior official at the center of the preparations claimed yesterday.
“The military force is fully ready. Once the UN gives the go-ahead, deployment can start immediately,” Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told journalists here.
Ouedraogo, a former prime minister of Burkina Faso, is the president of the commission, or permanent secretariat, of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
His comments contradicted the skepticism expressed by some military experts on the readiness of ECOWAS to send in a force capable of sweeping rebels out of northern Mali, a vast desert area that has fallen under the control of Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
ECOWAS leaders meeting in Nigeria agreed on Sunday to deploy a force of up to 3,300 men. A detailed plan of action, backed by the African Union, is due to be presented to the UN by the end of the month.