World
U.N.'s Ban recommends African troops in Mali become peacekeepersPublish Date: Mar 27, 2013
newvision
  • mail
  • img

UNITED NATIONS - An African force currently in Mali should be converted into a U.N. peacekeeping operation and a separate combat force should be created to confront Islamist threats, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended to the Security Council on Tuesday.

The U.N.-backed African force in Mali is due to take over from France when it starts withdrawing its 4,000 troops from the country in late April.

In a report to the 15-member Security Council, Ban recommended that the African force, known as AFISMA, become a U.N. peacekeeping force of some 11,200 troops and 1,440 police - once major combat ends.

To tackle Islamist extremists directly, Ban recommended that a so-called parallel force be created, which would work in close coordination with the U.N. mission.

Diplomats have said France is likely to provide troops for the smaller parallel force, which could be based in Mali or elsewhere in the West Africa region.

"Given the anticipated level and nature of the residual threat, there would be a fundamental requirement for a parallel force to operate in Mali alongside the U.N. mission in order to conduct major combat and counter-terrorism operations," Ban wrote.

The parallel force would not have a formal U.N. mandate, though it would be operating with the informal blessing of the Security Council. The report did not specify a time limit for the mission.

The Security Council was due to be briefed on Wednesday on Ban's recommendations and diplomats hope a vote to approve the peacekeeping force can take place by mid-April.

France began a military offensive in January to drive out Islamist fighters, who had hijacked a revolt by Mali's Tuareg rebels and seized two-thirds of the West African country. Paris said Mali's vast desert North was in danger of becoming a springboard for extremist attacks on the region and the West.

In a nine-week operation French, Chadian and Malian troops have driven the Islamists into desert hideaways and mountains near the Algerian border. French President Francois Hollande said recently that Mali's sovereignty had almost been restored.

However, Islamist fighters attacked northern Mali's largest town, Gao, over the weekend. It was the third major offensive there by the rebels since the town was retaken by a French-led military operation in late January.

CHILD RECRUITS

The African force in Mali is made up of troops mainly from West Africa, including more than 2,000 Chadians. Other than Chad's contingent, most African elements remain in the south of Mali away from the fighting.

The United Nations would only take on security responsibilities in Mali when "the necessary security and political conditions were deemed to be in place, following an assessment by the (U.N.) Secretariat."

Mali's government hopes to hold elections in July, but Security Council diplomats and U.N. officials said that goal may be overly ambitious.

Ban said that once the African soldiers become a U.N. peacekeeping force, the majority of the troops and police would operate in the north of the country, while there would be a "light presence" based in the country's capital, Bamako.

"The force would operate under robust rules of engagement, with a mandate to use all necessary means to address threats to the implementation of its mandate, which would include protection of civilians," Ban said.

"This could include the conduct of operations on its own or in cooperation with the Malian ... forces," he said.

Ban also suggested that the Security Council consider establishing an independent group of experts to investigate transnational and organized crime in Mali with the possibility of imposing punitive, targeted sanctions.

Mali was once viewed as an example of a working democracy in Africa, but its north has been a center of cross-desert trafficking of drugs, stolen goods and Western hostages. Border towns are used as transit hubs for trans-Sahara cocaine and hashish smuggling.

Ban raised serious concerns in the report about human rights violations being committed in northern Mali, including summary executions, illegal arrests and forced disappearances, use of children by armed groups, rape, forced marriages and looting.

"Hundreds of children have been recruited by all of the armed groups active in the north, including AQUIM (al Qaeda's north African wing), Ansar Dine, MUJAO and the MNLA," he said.

"The capture and detention of children for intelligence purposes is also an emerging trend that needs to be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency," Ban wrote.

Reuters

 

 

 


 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Violence soars in Gaza as world pleads for truce
BLOODSHED in and around Gaza surged Tuesday with strikes killing 26 Palestinians, including at least four children, as Israel announced the deaths of five more soldiers...
US President Barack Obama has warned that the future stability of the world depends on African nations achieving prosperity and self-reliance, in an address to youth leaders from the continent....
Second attack by female suicide bomber injures 6 in Nigeria
A second attack by a female suicide bomber outside a shopping centre in Nigeria''s Kano city injured six people on Monday after a similar blast killed three people at a petrol station, police said....
Foreigners urged to leave Libya amid rising violence
EGYPT and several Western states urged their nationals to leave Libya amid spiralling violence after two weeks of fighting left 97 people dead...
Malaysia marks grim Eid after MH17 crash
MALAYSIA on Monday marked a solemn Eid al-Fitr, Islam''s biggest festival, as families of those aboard downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 mourned the dead...
UN Council to make urgent appeal for Gaza ceasefire
THE UN Security Council agreed on Sunday to issue an urgent appeal to Israel and Hamas for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza...
Should voters be given poer to recall their MPs?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter