United Nations - Armed groups in Mali
continue to pose a serious security threat to the entire region while African
troops forming the core of a UN peacekeeping mission deploying next month are
not yet properly equipped, the UN chief said in a new report.
France launched a massive military campaign in January which broke
al-Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters' control over the northern two-thirds of Mali
and allowed the Tuaregs to regain control of their traditional fiefdom of
But UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the Security
Council on Saturday that despite the gains made by French troops, Malian
security forces and an African force known as AFISMA, the situation continues
to be precarious.
"The situation on the ground remains ... fluid, with sporadic clashes
between armed groups and continued asymmetric attacks across the three regions
of the north," Ban said in the report, obtained by Reuters.
"Furthermore the advance of the MDSF (Malian defence and security
forces) northwards towards Kidal and the fatal clashes with MNLA (separatist
Tuareg) elements on 5 June have exacerbated tensions and increased the
volatility of the situation in the region," it said.
To reduce those renewed tensions, Mali's government and Tuareg separatists
began talks on Saturday that both sides said they hoped would lead to a
ceasefire ahead of national elections next month and pave the way for a
permanent peace deal.
The talks in the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, due to conclude on
Monday, follow the first fighting in months between Mali's army and the MNLA
rebels this week as government forces advanced toward the Tuaregs' last
stronghold of Kidal in the remote northeast.
Once the UN peacekeeping force, to be known as MINUSMA, is deployed, France
will continue to handle counterterrorism and peace enforcement operations as
needed in Mali, while the UN blue helmets will handle traditional peacekeeping
duties of policing and trying to ensure new violence does not erupt.