Burkinabe mediator off to northern Mali to meet Islamists
Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole leaves for northern Mali to meet Islamists who control the zone.
OUAGADOUGOU - Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole, whose country is leading mediation efforts in the Mali crisis, left on Tuesday for northern Mali to meet Islamists who control the zone.
Accompanied by an advisor, Bassole took off early on Tuesday from Ouagadougou, an AFP reporter on the plane with him said.
He is to go to Gao and Kidal to "take a message" to armed Islamist groups from Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, who is the mediator for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc.
Hardline Islamists who occupied Mali's vast north in the chaos following a coup in Bamako in March have tightened control over the area, imposing a strict form of Islamic law.
Among those now in power in the north are the Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
ECOWAS wants to send a 3,000 strong military force to Mali, but is waiting for United Nations approval and a formal request from Bamako.