UN agrees plan to oust extremists in Mali


The UN Security Council has approved an African-led military operation to oust al-Qa’ida-linked extremists from northern Mali – but not before the training of the country’s security forces and progress on political reconciliation and elections.

The resolution, passed unanimously, stresses that there must be a two-track plan, political and military, to wrest control of the turbulent north and successfully reunite the West African nation.

It authorises an African-led force to support Malian authorities in recovering the north, but sets benchmarks before the start of offensive operations, starting with progress on a political road map to restore constitutional order.

It also emphasises that further military planning is needed before the African-led force is sent to the north and asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to “confirm in advance the council’s satisfaction with the planned military-offensive operation”.

Mali was plunged into turmoil in March after a coup in the capital, Bamako, created a security vacuum. That allowed the secular Tuaregs to take half the north as a new homeland. But months later, the rebels were ousted by Islamist groups allied with al-Qa’ida, which have now imposed strict shariah law in the north.