West African bloc urges MNLA rebels to dialogue with Malian gov't

2013-04-20 08:46:09 GMT2013-04-20 16:46:09(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BAMAKO, April 20 (Xinhua) -- The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is urging the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) to disarm and join Mali's inclusive dialogue.

The ECOWAS Commission chairman, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, made the overture in the Malian capital Bamako at the opening of the fourth session of the Support and Follow-up Group on the situation in Mali on Friday.

Since the beginning of the operation to liberate the occupied northern Mali in January, the Malian forces have managed to enter Gao, Ansongo, Menaka and Timbuktu, but the MNLA fighters have prevented them from entering Kidal.

"The ambiguous situation that is prevailing in the Kidal region due to the persistent demands by the MNLA should be a matter of concern to the members of the follow-up group," Ouedraogo said.

"According to ECOWAS, no secessionist group should exist. MNLA should therefore disarm and accept to dialogue with the Malian authorities," the ECOWAS Commission chairman said.

In this regard, he said, "We appeal to the international community and the allied forces to facilitate the deployment of the Malian forces across the entire national territory, while also opening up dialogue with all groups that support Mali's peace plan. "

At the same time, Ouedraogo urged all the international partners of ECOWAS to fulfill the pledges they made during a donors conference on Mali that was held on Jan. 29 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

He reminded the members of the follow-up group on the consequences of the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, especially in the localities formally occupied by the terrorists.

The ECOWAS Commission chairman urged the international community, especially the humanitarian agencies, to take charge of the increasing number of refugees and the internally displaced persons.

Ouedraogo said that since the beginning of the Malian crisis, ECOWAS has contributed humanitarian assistance worth 4.5 million U. S. dollars.

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