Abuja - The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have authorised the deployment of an African-led international force to flush out rebel groups from northern Mali in order to restore security in the country.
The endorsement is contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the extraordinary summit held in Abuja on Sunday.
The communiqué requested the Peace and Security Council of the AU to endorse the Concept of Operations adopted by the session, together with the Strategic concept for onward transmission to the UN Security Council.
It said that this should be done in line with the deadline of Nov.15 stipulated by the UN Resolution 2071.
The communiqué urged the UN Security Council to examine the concept with a view to authorise the deployment of the force in Mali in conformity with Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
It commended the efforts of Mali in using military as well as diplomatic efforts at restoring constitutional order in the country, stressing the need for ECOWAS to play a leadership role in the deployment of the force.
It said that such a role should cover the command and resource mobilisation in close cooperation with the AU and the UN.
"Summit reiterates its commitment to the commission to maintain the stand-by force in a high state of readiness for imminent deployment and urges member state to concretise their commitment to provide military and logistical contributions to the ECOWAS military efforts.
"Authority also reiterates its preoccupation with the flagrant violation of human rights and humanitarian laws in the occupied territory as well as the humanitarian consequences that may result from the planned deployment.
"Authority welcomes the fact that the humanitarian angle has been taken into account in the strategic concept and the operation planning for the deployment and appeals to humanitarian agencies and international community to continue to provide assistance to the affected region," it said.
On the transitional process, the communiqué urged the government of Mali to expedite action on it and ensure its scrupulous implementation for the restoration of full state control throughout the country.
It urged the country to hold free, fair and transparent elections, stressing that no member of the current interim government should take part in the election.
It also urged the interim administration to expedite action on the establishment of the National Committee on Negotiation to dialogue with stakeholders as well as with armed groups not involved in terrorist and criminal activities.
The communiqué further called on the Guinea Bissau transitional authorities to ensure the credibility of the process and warned that no member should take part in the forthcoming 2013 presidential election.