Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Mali troops stand by to oust Islamists

Mali's interim leader Dioncounda Traoré has called on the west African regional body ECOWAS for military assistance to help take back the country's north, which has been occupied by Islamists since April.

France's special representative for the Sahel, Jean Felix-Paganon, learned of the request during a meeting with the Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, who chairs the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The French diplomat did not give details of the request nor when it was made. ECOWAS has said it was ready to send about 3,000 troops to Mali to help reclaim the north.