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WAR REPORT
Malian coup leader sworn in as head of army reform committee
by Staff Writers
Bamako (AFP) Feb 13, 2013


Britain airlifts Ghanaian troops into Mali
London (AFP) Feb 14, 2013 - Britain has flown 120 Ghanaian troops to Bamako to participate in the African intervention in Mali, the Ministry of Defence said Thursday.

The same Royal Air Force C17 transport plane that has been used to help French troops get on the ground quickly to drive Islamist militants out of northern Mali was used to lift the soldiers to Mali's capital.

Members of Ghana's Engineering Company 1 took a fleet of vehicles with them and also materials for building accommodation and roads.

"The company will play a very specific role," said Ghanaian military spokesman Colonel M'Bawine Atintande, cited by Britain's Ministry of Defence.

"We expect the forces to be there as long as it takes to solve the problem. Normally we stay in the six months and then rotate.

"Any problem in any part of Africa is as much a concern to us as it is to them. And so therefore it is very important that we should be in Mali to help them solve their problems."

France intervened militarily at the request of the Malian government in mid-January as Islamist militants advanced towards Bamako from the northern regions they have held since mid-2012.

African countries have also pledged troops.

Britain has contributed more than 300 troops in training and support roles, as well as offering logistical help to other nations, although the government has stressed it will not send ground troops.

British armed forces minister Andrew Robathan, on a two-day visit to Bamako, said: "We have said we don't want to have troops on the ground but we are helping the French effort and we're helping the African effort as well.

"We're going to help train Malians with the EU training mission too."

The leader of a March coup that ousted Mali's government, exacerbating a crisis in which Islamist rebels went on to seize over half the country, was sworn in Wednesday as head of a military reform committee.

Captain Amadou Sanogo was sworn in to the new post, created for him as an incentive to accept a transitional government tasked with steering the country to elections, by interim president Dioncounda Traore in a ceremony at the presidency.

"This military committee is not political and is not about replacing the military chain of command. It is adhering to its mission of following the planned reforms in close collaboration with other structures," said Sanogo, a former army English instructor who received military training in the United States.

"Captain Sanogo was the one chosen to make this committee work because of his personal qualities," Traore said.

"He's a trainer. That's his job. He knows how to manage a team and will work to put in place an army that performs."

Sanogo's new post comes with living quarters at the army chief of staff's offices in Bamako -- an arrangement political and military sources said was a bid to lure him away from his loyalists in the garrison town of Kati, where he and the rest of his junta had set up headquarters.

Sanogo led a group of fellow mid-level officers to overthrow then-president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, accusing him of letting separatist rebels humiliate the Malian army.

The coup upended what had been considered one of west Africa's most stable democracies.

Sanogo styled himself a Malian Charles de Gaulle, promising to rescue the country.

Under pressure from regional mediators, he grudgingly handed power to the interim government on April 13.

But he continued to pull strings behind the scenes, notably by forcing interim prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra to resign by ordering his arrest.

Amid the disarray in the capital Bamako, Islamist extremists hijacked the independence rebellion and seized the country's vast desert north, implementing a brutal form of sharia.

With Mali's collapsing army powerless to stop them, interim leader Traore made a plea for help, and Mali's former colonial ruler France launched a military intervention on January 11.

The French-led operation has forced the Islamists from the towns they controlled.

But the insurgents have continued attacking reclaimed territory with suicide bombings and guerrilla assaults.

The Malian army also continues to be deeply divided.

On Friday, a gunfight broke out between paratroopers loyal to ousted president Toure and other units loyal to Sanogo, killing two civilians.

The violence erupted on the same day a first group of European Union military instructors arrived to train the Malian army to deal with the insurgents.

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