Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Harper to meet with African Union leader as Canada mulls support for Mali

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s challenge: Reinforce the message that only his party can manage the economy.


The head of the African Union is set to visit Ottawa this week.

Thomas Boni Yayi's meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper could bring a request for Canadian troops to be involved in an international mission in Mali.

The United Nations Security Council backed a proposal in December to send an African-led force of 3,300 soldiers into the country.

Story continues below advertisement

But the resolution also called for broader international assistance.

A military coup last year created a power vacuum in Mali that's led to the rise of armed groups linked to al-Qaeda in the country's northern region.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said last week that Canada could be willing to send troops to help train African forces.

As the president of the African Union, Mr. Boni Yayi was instrumental in convincing the United Nations that international intervention was needed.

And the African Union, along with a coalition of West African states, is now responsible for putting the resolution into action.

Mali, a landlocked country bordering on Algeria and Niger, has been one of the biggest recipients of Canada's foreign aid.

Canadian special forces were active in the west African country for several training missions prior to the coup and before Islamic Maghreb — known as AQIM — overran much of the northern portion of the impoverished nation.

Story continues below advertisement

In addition to being the chairperson of the AU, Mr. Boni Yayi is also the president of Benin.

"Benin is a democratic African partner that continues to make impressive progress in the areas of economic and institutional reform while promoting regional stability," said Harper in a statement Sunday.

"I look forward to meeting with (President Boni Yayi) to explore ways of expanding commercial relations and contributing further to Benin's development."

Editor's note: The name of the president of Benin was reported incorrectly in an earlier version of this story. This version has been corrected.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to