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Mali crisis: France seeks deadline

11 October 2012, 14:29

New York - France has drawn up a UN Security Council resolution seeking a detailed plan within 30 days on an international military intervention in Mali in a bid to oust militants from the north.

The draft also urges the country's transitional authorities and rebel groups "to engage as soon as possible in a credible negotiation process in order to seek a sustainable political solution to the crisis gripping Mali for months”.

After West Africa's Ecowas regional body, the African Union and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon submit their plan, the 15-member Security Council would still have to pass a second resolution to greenlight the deployment. That resolution is not expected until late November at the earliest.

In March, military putschists seized power in the capital Bamako, ousting President Amadou Toumani Toure, only to see the north and east fall to Tuareg rebels and militias linked to al-Qaeda.

The draft resolution asks for "detailed and actionable recommendations to respond to the request [of the Malian government] for such an international military force", including the concept of operations, force generation capacities and strength.

Bamako has formally requested a UN mandate for an international military force with a deployment in Mali of West African troops that would help re-conquer the north.

For some six months now, the Security Council has called in vain for details on the intervention, including its objectives and logistical needs.

Coherent strategy

The text, which could still see changes, also denounces human rights violations in northern Mali and asks rebel groups to disassociate themselves from terror groups such as al-Qaeda's regional affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

A meeting is set for 19 October in Bamako with representatives from Ecowas, the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations in an attempt to develop a "coherent strategy", a diplomat said. France has promised logistical help for the operation.

In the meantime, the draft resolution calls on UN member countries and organisations such as the European Union to begin training and equipping the Malian army, which is expected to take the lead in retaking the north.

France hopes the resolution will be adopted in the coming days.

"The council is pretty united on Mali," said one European diplomat. "There are some tweaks... but no major problems of substance."

"We are ready to authorise a military intervention once there is a credible concept of operation," the diplomat added, noting that "the argument comes down to financing".

For now, "this is a halfway house resolution designed to maintain the momentum and galvanise the international community", said another diplomat.



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