African Union head seeks global coalition to intervene on Mali

OTTAWA Tue Jan 8, 2013 2:58pm EST

1 of 2. Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) meets with Chairman of the African Union and Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni in Harper's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The head of the African Union, Benin President Boni Yayi, called on Tuesday for a global coalition to intervene against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, but Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had no plans to join the U.N.-sanctioned force.

The capture of the northern two-thirds of Mali by Islamist groups has sown fears that it could become a center for radicals to plot international attacks, and Yayi said terrorism was an international problem that required an international response.

"It's not...a purely African question. It's a world question, an international question," Yayi told a news conference with Harper after their ministers signed a foreign investment protection agreement.

Harper said Canada would provide humanitarian aid and signaled great concern about the situation, but said: "The government of Canada is not considering a direct Canadian military mission."

The 15-nation U.N. Security Council in December unanimously authorized the deployment of an African-led military force to help defeat al Qaeda and other Islamist militants in northern Mali.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Louise Egan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman; Writing by Randall Palmer)