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'Fabric' of Mali eroding

Dec. 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM

LONDON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Simmering conflict in Mali is having a profound effect on "the very fabric of society," a European aid commissioner said.

The African community has proposed a neutral force for deployment to Mali to help ensure territorial integrity in a country divided when foreign and Islamic rebels claimed authority over northern Mali in early 2012.

Kristalina Georgieva, the humanitarian aid commissioner for the European Union, said there are fears Mali may go down the path of Somalia, which until recently lacked a formal central government for roughly 20 years.

"The effect is unraveling the very fabric of society," she told The Guardian newspaper in London. The situation there, she said, is "metastasizing."

The British government last week expressed concern when Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned as prime minister after he was arrested in Bamako by soldiers who supported a coup this year.

Military leaders had said Diarra was in the way of political developments in the country.

Salamatu Suleiman, head of political affairs of the Economic Community of West African Affairs, said last week the regional bloc was losing patience with Mali.

Dialogue is the preferred course of action, though "some of the elements involved in the crisis are not amenable to dialogue," she said in a statement.

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