The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday that paves the way for the deployment of a five-nation African military force to fight jihadists in the Sahel region.
A French-drafted resolution won the full support of the 15-member council after France and the United States reached agreement on the measure, which welcomes the deployment but does not grant full UN authorization to the 5,000-strong force.
Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — which make up the so-called G5 — agreed in March to set up the special joint counterterrorism operation and the African Union had sought UN backing for the force.
The United States had opposed UN authorization, arguing that it was not legally necessary because the troops will be operating on the territory of the five countries, and argued that the mandate was too broad.
After two weeks of negotiations, France dropped the request for formal UN authorization and for a special UN report on financing for the force.
The resolution “welcomes the deployment” of the G5 force “with a view to restoring peace and security in the Sahel region” and drops a provision that invoked chapter 7 of the UN charter, which authorizes the use of force.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre highlighted the unanimous vote at the council, calling it proof of “maximum political support” for the G5 force.
The G5 force will have its headquarters in Mali, but will be under a separate command from the UN peacekeeping force MINUSMA and work in coordination with France’s own 4,000-strong military presence in the region, known as Barkhane.
France carried out a military intervention in Mali in 2013 to drive out jihadist groups, some of which were linked to Al-Qaeda, which had seized key cities in the country’s north.
Although the Islamists have been largely ousted from the north, jihadist groups continue to mount attacks on civilians and UN forces in violence that has engulfed parts of central Mali.
Five people died in an attack Sunday on a resort near Mali’s capital that was claimed by an Al Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance, the latest to shake the region.
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