France and its African allies ;are pushing
for a heavily armed force to be part of a possible U.N.
peacekeeping mission. From
The United Nations is considering setting up a 10,000-strong
force in the former French colony before presidential and
legislative elections in July, a deadline a European diplomat
described on Tuesday as “a race against time”.
U.N. deputy peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet is in the Malian
capital Bamako this week to assess options for a peacekeeping
mission once a French-led military intervention that began two
months ago is completed.
A heavily armed rapid-reaction force, similar to the unit
proposed for a U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic
of ;Congo, would be a departure from its
typically more passive peacekeeper operations.
In practical terms, U.N. diplomats say, troops in the
rapid-response force would have more freedom to open fire without
being required to wait until they are attacked first, a limitation
usually placed on U.N. peacekeepers around the world.
Other recent news from Mali includes reports that not only are
Chadians becoming increasingly frustrated by the conflict in
Mali, but that a Malian
newspaper editor is under arrest after publishing a letter
critical of Mali’s coup leader’s salary and that Malian soldiers
are engaging in
reprisal attacks against Tuaregs and Arabs. While it is true
that French and Chadian forces have been making progress in the
northeast of Mali the country that they are trying to free from the
threat of Islamic militants is not looking like the stable country
many would like to see.
At the moment a U.N. peacekeeping force (let alone a heavily
armored one) has not been authorized. The French, who are trying to
organize a withdrawal from their former colony, must deal with
remaining Islamic militants in the northeast and worrying
developments in the rest of Mali while diplomats debate the
possibility of a U.N. peacekeeping force. ;
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