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AU appeals for UN funding for Mali force

06 December 2012, 10:01

New York - The African Union appealed on Wednesday for the UN funding for a military operation to combat Islamist extremists in northern Mali after the UN chief Ban Ki-moon cautiously recommended the Security Council approve the force without the UN financing.

Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to seize two-thirds of the country. But Islamist extremists, some allied with al-Qaeda, have hijacked the revolt.

The AU observer to the United Nations, Antonio Tete, told the 15-member Security Council that the deployment and operations of an African force of 3 300 troops would need "a UN support package funded through assessed contributions to ensure sustained and predictable support to the mission".

"Experience in the Darfur region of Sudan, with AMIS, and, currently, in Somalia, with Amisom, has clearly shown the limitations of, and constraints linked to, support provided on a voluntary basis," Tete said.

AMIS was the African Union's force in Sudan before it became a joint UN-AU force, which was renamed Unamid. In Somalia, an AU peacekeeping force is known as Amisom.

Diplomats said the African Union and France - the most vocal Western backer of a plan for African troops to retake northern Mali - were angry that Ban had not offered UN funding. Seven French nationals are being held hostage in the desert region.

The fall of Mali's north to the Islamists, including Aqim, al-Qaeda's North African wing, has carved out a safe haven for militants and international organized crime, the UN officials say, stirring fears of attacks in West Africa and in Europe.

- Reuters


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