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UN envoy says extraordinary decisions to be taken over crisis in Mali

The United Nations will have to take extraordinary decisions on Mali, given the prevailing security crisis in the West African country, according to UN special envoy Romano Prodi.

Prodi, the special representative of the UN secretary general to Africa's Sahel region, made the comments on Thursday during a visit to Mali.

In the Malian capital Bamako, he said he was concerned about the recent clashes between the Malian army and rebels in the central region of Mopti. "In this regard, I think that some extraordinary decisions will have to be taken," he said.

He denied that he and Said Djinnit, the special representative of the UN secretary general in West Africa, had authored a report which indicated that a military intervention to liberate the northern part of Mali would be impossible until September 2013.

"I am not an expert and I never said that we should wait. I only said what the experts had proposed: wait until after six months," Prodi said.

"All the experts said that we should wait first, that we should have enough funds, time and energy. And take time to find political and economic solutions for the future of the Sahel," he insisted.

Mali is one the countries in the Sahel region along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The Malian army and rebels have been battling over the strategic town of Konna in the central region of Mopti, the gateway to the government-controlled south.

The army says it recaptured the town late Thursday hours after losing it to rebels, who vow to push south after taking the north in the aftermath of a military coup on March 22, 2012.

Of the rebels, Al-Qaida's branch in North Africa AQIM is considered a major threat in the Sahel region. The United Nations has approved a military intervention plan in northern Mali out of fear that the region could become a safe haven for terrorism and drug and human trafficking.

[Source: Xinhua, Bamako, 11Jan13]

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