As European Union Foreign Affairs commissioner Catherin Ashton urged “accelerated international engagement”, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) summit planned for 19 January will see member state militaries mobilise for a Multinational Support Mission backed by the United Nations.

With about 800 French troops despatched to protect foreign nationals in Mali’s capital Bamako and 2500 more prepared to mobilise, military convoys are already driving north from Bamako to assist Mali’s army in efforts to retake the towns of Diabaly and Konna, along with southern territory recently taken by rebels.