A statement signed by Presidential Spokesperson, John Abdulai Jinapor, indicated that the Heads of State will discuss the political situation in Mali and formulate strategies for the speedy restoration of peace and constitutional order in Mali.
Mr. Mahama, the statement noted, will return home on Saturday January 19, 2013.
Update on the Mali Conflict
Relations between the north and south have been historically fraught. The north has chafed under southern rule; the region has seen major rebellions from the Tuareg – nomadic – communities who feel marginalised in an already poor country.
There have been rebellions in the 1990s, 2006-08 and the one last year that precipitated the present crisis.
According to the International Crisis Group, a Brussels thinktank, deep resentment was caused by stories of massacres, the poisoning of wells and forced exile from 1963, score-settling by pro-government militias against Tuareg civilians in the 1990s.
The 2012 rebellion was partly an unintended consequence of Muammar Gaddafi's downfall in Libya. The Libyan "blowback" took the form of an influx of Libyan weapons and the return of Tuaregs who formerly fought for the Libyan dictator.
Those weapons and the presence of seasoned fighters tipped the balance. In early 2012, the rebels swept aside government troops in the north and started imposing sharia law.
They banned smoking and music and made women wear headscarves. Timbuktu proved a key moment in the rebellion, as the hardline Islamist groups MUJWA and Ansar Dine, backed by AQIM, al-Qaida's north African wing, took the ascendancy over the more secular group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).
In a move reminiscent of the destruction of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, Islamist militants damaged Sufi tombs inside a 15th-century mosque in Timbuktu. Ansar Dine displaced MNLA as the main rebel group, thanks to AQIM's financial support. It has managed to recruit some elements of the MNLA by paying them.
Currently France a former colonial master of Mali has already begun attacks against the militants in Mali.
ECOWAS nations have also contributed troops to support the efforts of the French.