ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, June 11 (UPI) -- ECOWAS won't consider the territorial integrity of Mali during negotiations with northern rebels, an African leader said.
Rebel military forces in March toppled the civilian government in Mali, saying they were frustrated with the inability to copy with northern rebels, who've declared autonomy for their part of the country.
Abdel Fatau Musah, external relations director for the Economic Community of West African States, told Voice of America that African leaders were considering the use of force to take control from northern rebels.
"We are not going to negotiate the territorial integrity of Mali," he said. "All other issues are on the table, but territorial integrity is off the table."
ECOWAS said last week it was considering a series of sanctions against Mali in an effort to address lingering security and political concerns.
Because of "flagrant violations of human rights," the African bloc said it was preparing a stand-by force for deployment and may seek approval to send troops into Mali under a Chapter VII resolution of the U.N. Security Council.
Some rebel leaders in the north met with ECOWAS authorities last weekend.