“France asked the Security Council to consider establishing a U.N. peacekeeping operation in Mali on Wednesday, a move that reinforced its plan to send French troops home as soon as military operations end.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters that he started discussions on the issue during closed council consultations on Mali, but insisted that a U.N. force would deploy only when security conditions permit.
Mali was plunged into turmoil after a coup in March 2012 created a security vacuum. That allowed the secular Tuaregs, who have long felt marginalized by Mali’s government, to take half the north as a new homeland. But months later, the rebels were kicked out by the Islamists who imposed strict Shariah law in the north, including amputations for theft.
“Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said on Wednesday a peacekeeping force could be in place by April, incorporating troops being deployed under the banner of a West African intervention force, AFISMA, into a UN peacekeeping mission.
“From the moment that security is assured, we can envisage without changing the structures that it can be placed under the framework of UN peacekeeping operations,” Fabius told reporters.
“This gives the advantage of being under the umbrella of the United Nations, under its financing,” he said.
France has deployed nearly 4,000 ground troops, as well as warplanes and armoured vehicles in its three-week-oldOperation Serval that has broken the rebels’ 10-month grip on northern towns.