UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Friday he wants former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi to be his envoy to the troubled Sahel region, where West African states seek UN backing for military intervention in Mali.
Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to seize two-thirds of the country. But Islamist extremists, some al-Qaida allies, hijacked the revolt in the north.
West Africa's regional body, ECOWAS, has mapped out a three- phase operation to help Malian troops recapture the north, and Mali's interim leader, Dioncounda Traore, asked the Security Council earlier this month to authorize the force.
Council diplomats say ECOWAS needs to present a more coherent and comprehensive plan for military intervention in Mali before they authorize it.