Wednesday, June 28 2017

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France will ask UN to authorise Sahel counter-terror force

Update: June, 07/2017 - 11:00
A Sahel force will have its headquarters in Mali but will be under a separate command from the UN peacekeeping force MINUSMA, a German solider of which is seen in April 2017, which has been deployed in the country since 2013. — AFP/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

UNITED NATIONS, United States — France will ask the UN Security Council to authorise an African military force for the Sahel region that will be sent to root out jihadists and drug traffickers, the French ambassador said on Tuesday.

A French-drafted resolution is expected to be presented this week to the Security Council, which could vote on the measure as early as next week.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – which make up the G5 – agreed in March to set up the force of 5,000 troops for the Sahel region.

The force will have its headquarters in Mali, but will be under a separate command from the UN peacekeeping force MINUSMA, which has been deployed in the country since 2013.

"France is going to propose a draft Security Council resolution to authorise the G5 Sahel counter-terrorist force," Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters.

Delattre said he expected the council to back the measure, drafted under chapter 7 of the UN charter, which provides for the use of force.

"We cannot afford to let the Sahel region become a new safe haven for terrorists from across the region," he said.

Speaking in the Malian capital Bamako, Niger’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yacouba said the G5 hoped to have a UN mandate "by the end of June," paving the way to deployment of the force.

France carried out a military intervention in Mali in 2013 to drive out jihadist groups, some of which were linked to Al-Qaeda, which had seized key cities in the country’s north.

July summit on Sahel force

French President Emmanuel Macron will attend a summit in Bamako in July to consider how the Sahel force will work alongside France’s own 4,000-strong military presence in the region.

"France is an important partner," said Chad’s Foreign Minister Hissein Brahim Taha.

Although the Islamists have been largely ousted from the north, jihadist groups continue to mount attacks on civilians and UN forces in violence that has engulfed parts of central Mali.

The measure will include a request to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to propose ways to support the Sahel force through logistical and financial means.

UN support for the Sahel force would come at a time when the 12,000-strong MINUSMA force has come under a series of attacks in what has become the UN’s deadliest active mission.

Two peacekeepers from Chad were killed in an ambush in the north on May 23.

The attack, like many others in the last weeks, was claimed by a powerful jihadist alliance, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links.

On Monday, Mali’s foreign minister said regional leaders had decided that the strength of the Sahel force would be doubled to 10,000.

The draft resolution will authorise the deployment of 5,000 troops. — AFP

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