UNITED NATIONS (AP) — France has circulated a draft resolution that would give U.N. backing to an international military force to assist the Malian army in ousting Islamic militants who seized the northern half of the country and are turning it into a terrorist hub.
The draft, obtained Tuesday by the Associated Press, gives Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 30 days to submit "detailed and actionable recommendations" to recover the occupied territory.
It says the U.N. chief should build on the existing joint planning efforts of the West African regional group ECOWAS and the African Union and immediately provide U.N. military planners to assist the two organizations in helping to prepare his report. It says he should also consult with Mali's neighbors, international organizations and other interested parties.
ECOWAS and Mali's transitional government asked the Security Council in September to authorize a military intervention to oust the al-Qaida linked Islamists. But the council said it wanted ECOWAS to prepare a "feasible" plan with "detailed options" for a force, and to coordinate with other African nations and the European Union.
The proposed resolution expresses the council's "readiness to respond positively to the request ... for an international military force" once it gets "actionable" recommendations.
Mali's democratically elected leader was ousted in a military coup in March. The junta accused him of failing to quell a rebellion in the north, which began in January. After the coup, Tuareg rebels took advantage of the power vacuum and within weeks took control of the north, aided by an Islamist faction. But the Islamists quickly ousted the Tuaregs and took control of half the country.
The French draft welcomes the appointment of a government of national unity led by interim president Dioncounda Traore and urges it to accelerate efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and restore constitutional order by holding credible elections. It demands that the Malian armed forces immediately halt any interference in the work of the transitional government.
The proposed resolution would take note of ECOWAS' decisions and recommendations to adopt targeted sanctions in Mali and express the Security Council's "readiness to consider appropriate measures as necessary."
It would also call on Malian rebel groups to cut all ties to terrorist organizations, especially al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. And it would urge all groups in the north to stop human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law including targeted attacks against civilians, sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers.
The draft expresses the council readiness "to adopt targeted sanctions against those rebel groups who do not cut off all ties to terrorist organizations."
The proposed resolution urges the transitional authorities and Malian rebel groups "to engage as soon as possible in a credible negotiation process in order to seek a sustainable political solution" to the crisis, and it asks the secretary-general to support the political efforts.
Earlier Tuesday, Ban appointed former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi as his special envoy for the crisis-wracked Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa which includes Mali.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky, who announced the appointment, said Ban looks forward to Prodi's leadership in shaping and mobilizing an effective U.N. and international response to the complex crises stemming from political upheavals and a rise in terrorist and criminal activity. He said Prodi will initially focus on Mali.
The French proposal welcomes Prodi's appointments saying he should "engage actively in defining the parameters of a comprehensive solution to the Malian crisis."