Mali to form 1 200 strong elite force to protect transition
BAMAKO – Mali’s transition government yesterday announced the creation of an elite force of 1 200 troops to protect the leaders of the country’s embattled interim regime.
“Under the direct authority of the president, these special forces will assure the security of the head of state, the prime minister, the speaker of the national assembly and other state institutions,” said a statement from the communications ministry.
The communique added that the formation of the special force was in line with the wishes of leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) who met in Ouagadougou on Saturday.
The special force will be formed with the most recent graduates from the schools of police and para-military police.
The statement said Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra had asked countries friendly to Mali to assist in “perfecting the training of this elite corps and reinforcing its logistical and material equipment.”
He recently visited Algeria, France and Morocco.
This was done in agreement with transition president Dioncounda Traore, who has been in Paris for over a month since a violent attack in his office by a mob opposed to him taking over from the junta.
The new force should be in place “as soon as possible”, said the statement.
West African leaders who met in Ouagadougou urged Traore to ask “without delay” for Ecowas and the United Nations to approve the sending of an African force to Mali, notably to protect the president when he eventually returns.
However a source close to Traore said he wanted to be protected by Malians out of “national pride.”