UN confirms peacekeeping force for Mali

2013-06-25 21:04

New York - The UN Security Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday that a 12 600-strong UN peacekeeping force should be deployed in Mali from 1 July, Britain's UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said.

Lyall Grant, council president for June, said that despite security, logistical and political obstacles in the country, in turmoil since March 2012, there was "unanimous agreement" for UN peacekeepers to take over from a French-led military operation on Monday.

French forces, who intervened in Mali in January to halt an Islamist advance on the capital, will hand over main security duties to the UN force, to be known as Minusma, from Monday.

France will maintain at least 1 000 troops in the country, however, for anti-terrorism operations.

"Security conditions are satisfactory, no major attack has been recorded against the Malian and African forces, and most important, despite what certain people feared, the political process has experienced a very positive evolution," France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud said, welcoming the handover.

Araud said the French government would start reducing the 3 000 troops currently in Mali from the end of August.