UNITED NATIONS, Jun 14 – The UN Security Council on Wednesday held back support for an African intervention force in Mali, where rebels and Al-Qaeda allies have taken over the north of the country.
Unrest in Mali, tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, a coup in Guinea-Bissau and Somalia’s troubled transitional government dominated annual talks between the UN Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.
The African Union has called on the UN Security Council to “urgently” support a proposed West African intervention force for Mali.
The two groups again condemned the coup d’etat in Mali and expressed “deep concern” over the presence of Al-Qaeda militants among rebels in the north of the country.
But a statement released after the meeting only “took note” of African Union calls for the intervention force and said it would “examine proposals for future appropriate steps to assist ECOWAS in its efforts in Mali.”
Diplomats said several Security Council members have questions about the force proposed by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
“We need to know more about the aims of the force, how it will carry these out and how it will be supported logistically and financially,” said one UN Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Another envoy pointed to “some reluctance” among council members.
“We have asked the African Union to provide more information,” the envoy added.
President Francois Hollande of France, a permanent member of the council, has given backing for a force but said the AU and ECOWAS must take the lead in getting a UN mandate for an intervention force.
Tuareg took over the northern half of Mali in March, taking advantage of a coup by renegade soldiers against President Amadou Toumani Toure. The Tuareg now control the territory alongside militants and Al-Qaeda allies.
Ministers from African Union Peace and Security Council members met Tuesday and called on the UN to “urgently” back the force to bolster Mali’s interim government and to try to restore state authority in the north.
The UN Security Council is expected to hold more talks on Mali later this week.
The Security Council and African Union also expressed concern about tensions between Sudan and South Sudan as well as the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where government forces are battling rebels.
They renewed condemnation of the April coup in Guinea-Bissau and said Somalia’s transition government must “redouble” efforts to set up a special assembly to adopt a new constitution by an August deadline.
The United Nations and African Union have given Somalia’s interim authorities until August 20 to set up the assembly in the conflict-stricken country.