Bamako - Mali was "preparing all options" to retake the Islamist-occupied north of the country and national consultations were being prepared to form a government of national unity, the prime minister said late on Monday.
Cheick Modibo Diarra said on national television that the country was looking at all options concerning a possible military intervention in the vast north, seized by several al-Qaeda-linked groups amid a power vacuum opened by a 22 March military coup in the south.
"In coming days" a forum would be organised and a "consultative body including all the vital forces of the nation" set up to "form a government of national unity", the minister said.
On the use of force in the north, Diarra said he was expecting "proposals from the Economic Community of West African States [Ecowas]" after a visit here by a military technical mission from the regional body which is prepared to send about 3 000 troops to Mali.
Ecowas is first waiting for a formal request from the authorities in Bamako and also wants a mandate from the United Nations that it has not yet obtained.