UN approves Mali intervention

UN approves Mali intervention

UN approves Mali intervention

This file photo shows militiaman from the Ansar Dine Islamic group in northeastern Mali. The UN Security Council authorized military action to wrest northern Mali from the control of al-Qaeda-linked extremists. REUTERS Photo

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved sending an African-led military force to help reconquer northern Mali from Islamist militants but demanded progress first on political reconciliation, elections and training African troops and police.

The Security Council expressed on Dec. 20 its readiness to consider “appropriate measures,” which could include sanctions, against those whose actions undermine peace, stability and security, “including those who prevent the implementation of the constitutional order in Mali.” It also reiterated its readiness to impose additional targeted sanctions against rebel groups and individuals that don’t cut ties to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and the Movement of Unity and Jihad in Western Africa.

The resolution stresses the importance of reconciliation, urging the transitional authorities to finalize a transitional roadmap to restore constitutional order, including holding elections by April “or as soon as technically possible.”

The council asked the secretary-general to provide support in critical areas to help the Malian government extend its authority during or following a military operation, including in the rule of law, removing land mines and promoting national dialogue and regional cooperation.

Mali was plunged into turmoil after a coup in March created a security vacuum. That allowed the secular Tuaregs, who have long felt marginalized by Mali’s government, to take half the north as a new homeland. But months later, the rebels were kicked out by Islamist groups, which have now imposed strict Sharia law in the north.

Tuareg rebels to work against Islamists: UN

Coup members created new political turmoil earlier this month when they arrested the country’s prime minister, a move that raised new concerns about the ability of the Malian military to take part in the operation to retake the north. The Security Council strongly condemned the Malian security forces for their continued interference and stressed the need to expeditiously restore democratic governance and constitutional order.

The resolution also orders political efforts to draw the Tuareg rebels into a coalition against the Islamists. In parallel European nations and the international force, the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), will train Mali’s enfeebled army.

West African nations say they have 3,300 troops ready to go to Mali to help rebuild the country’s army and support a military operation, which is not expected to start before September next year.

Mali’s foreign minister, Tieman Coulibaly, welcomed the resolution as a “historic step” in the battle against Islamists.

Funding has been another controversy ahead of the force’s approval. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon angered African nations when he said the U.N. cannot pay for the force. The resolution called on U.N. member states and international organizations to pay for AFISMA.

The Security Council said it would consider setting up a new U.N. fund. France drew up the resolution after weeks of talks with the U.S. The U.S. finally co-sponsored the resolution voted Dec. 20 and is expected to become a major backer of the new force.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.