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AU asks UN to authorize deployment in Mali

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia--The African Union is asking the United Nations Security Council to endorse a military intervention to free northern Mali from Islamist extremists affiliated with al-Qaida.

The African Union's Peace and Security Council late Tuesday endorsed a plan to send 3,300 soldiers to Mali and called on the U.N. Security Council to authorize the deployment for an initial period of one year. Leaders from the West African bloc known as ECOWAS agreed on the plan Sunday.

Mutinous soldiers overthrew Mali's democratically elected president in March, creating a power vacuum that paved the way for Islamists to grab the north, an area the size of France. Since then, Islamic fundamentalists have imposed strict Shariah law, banning music and whipping, amputating and stoning to death people convicted of crimes.

The U.N. special envoy for West Africa, Said Djinnit, met Tuesday with Ansar Dine, one of the three Islamist extremist groups controlling northern Mali, to urge them to join political dialogue to end the crisis in northern Mali. The U.N. envoy met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso with an Ansar Dine delegation led by Algabass Ag Intalla.

Djinnit said that talks are being tried to find a peaceful solution to Mali's crisis, force will be used against those who refuse.

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