UNTED NATIONS, July 15 (Itar-Tass) - The U.N. peacekeepers who started their mission in Mali on July 1 have no mandate for carrying out counter-terrorism operations and may need the support of French troops, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during his talks in Paris on Monday, July 15.
The peacekeepers may also need transport and military helicopters.
Ban praised France’s efforts to help end the turmoil in Mali and stressed the importance of credible elections in the West African country in talks with its interim president earlier.
“I highly appreciate the very important contribution and sacrifice of France toward bringing about peace, security and development for the Malian people,” Ban said after talks with French President Francois Hollande.
In early 2013, a rebellion of ethnic Tuareg groups followed by an insurgency of Islamist extremists displaced hundreds of thousands in Mali and prompted the Government to request assistance from France to halt the southward march of the extremists, as an African-led force, known as AFISMA, gradually built strength.
Earlier this month, the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), took over from the African-led force, with a Security Council mandate “to use all necessary means” to carry out security-related stabilisation tasks, protect civilians, UN staff and cultural sites and create the conditions for provision of humanitarian aid.
Ban told Hollande that he counted on his continued leadership and support in Mali. “As you know well, the mandate of MINUSMA requires many capabilities such as armed military helicopters,” Ban said.
“I asked the President to consider providing such capabilities,” he added.
They also discussed the progress achieved in implementing the Preliminary Agreement of 18 June, including the return of Malian forces to Kidal, as well as the forthcoming presidential elections to be held on July 29. The Secretary-General also underlined the importance of the Integrated Regional Strategy for the Sahel.
Earlier, The U.N. Secretary-General also met with the interim President of Mali, Diacounda Traore, who he said welcomed the transfer of authority from AFISMA to the new U.N. peacekeeping mission.
According to information released by Ban’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky, the two also discussed the human rights situation in Mali and the Secretary-General noted the importance of the upcoming presidential elections, stressing that they needed to be credible and peaceful, with an outcome accepted by all Malians.
The spokesperson said that Ban also discussed the situation in Mali with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, including the mandate of MINUSMA, support of French troops for the Mission and the effect of the crisis on countries in the region.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established by the U.N. Security Council on April 25, 2013. It is made up mainly of more than 6,000 African troops, including 1,800 from Chad and 1,200 from Nigeria. Bangladesh had offered to provide 1,000 troops and China 500. Norway and Sweden will contribute almost 100 troops.