January 8, 2013 / 7:59 PM / 5 years ago

African Union head seeks global coalition to intervene on Mali

2 Min Read

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.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

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