Coup leader and head of Mali’s nearly two-week-old military junta has asked Western countries to help his army fight the rebels in control of the country's north.
“If the great powers are able to cross oceans to battle fundamentalist structures in Afghanistan, what’s stopping them coming to us? Our committee wants the best for the country,” said coup leader Amadou Sanogo on Thursday.
“The enemy is known and it is not in Bamako [capital of Mali]. If a force was to intervene it would have to do so in the north,” said Sanogo.
The plea was made shortly before Tuareg rebels announced that they had successfully accomplished their military “mission” in seizing control of Mali’s north and as a result called for ceasefire.
The Tuareg rebels have since January been fighting to establish independence in a territory in northern Mali known as Azawad, covering the areas of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao.
However, they had only been successful in taking over a number of small villages and towns until March 22 when renegade Malian soldiers led by Sanogo toppled Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup and took control of government institutions.
The junta leaders’ plea is the second such call in less than a week.
In another statement released last week on Friday, Sanogo said the military junta “needs the help of Mali’s friends to save the civilian population and Mali’s territorial integrity.”
The irony is that the coup leaders had said they mounted the coup out of anger at the government's inability to contain a two-month-old rebellion in the north of the country.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meanwhile, slapped sanctions on Mali on Monday and announced that the penalties would remain in place until the restoration of constitutional order in the country.
"All diplomatic, economic, financial measures and others are applicable from today (Monday) and will not be lifted until the reestablishment of constitutional order," said Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara, the chairman of the 15-nation regional bloc.