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United Nations UN Security Council losing patience with Mali as peacekeepers death toll rises

The Security Council is considering a French-drafted resolution that would extend the peacekeeping mission in Mali.

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The UN's 15,000-strong MINUSMA force in Mali -- some Senagalese members are shown in Sevare in May -- has lost 104 peacekeepers since it began in 2013, including nine killed so far this year play

The UN's 15,000-strong MINUSMA force in Mali -- some Senagalese members are shown in Sevare in May -- has lost 104 peacekeepers since it began in 2013, including nine killed so far this year

(AFP/File)

The Security Council is considering a French-drafted resolution that would extend the peacekeeping mission in Mali, considered the UN's deadliest, for a year but demand progress in peace efforts, according to the draft seen Wednesday by AFP.

The 15,000-strong MINUSMA force has lost 104 peacekeepers since it began in 2013, including nine killed so far this year, despite a peace deal signed by the government and armed groups three years ago.

The council is scheduled to vote next week on the measure that "expresses a sense of impatience over the persistent delays" in implementing the peace deal and threatens to impose sanctions on parties who block peace efforts.

The draft resolution directs Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to "keep the mission concept under review," suggesting that the council could consider a major overhaul of MINUSMA if violence continues.

Mali's government signed a peace agreement with coalitions of armed groups in June 2015 to end the fighting, but insurgents remain active, including in the central part of the African country.

Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert in northern Mali in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

A UN panel of experts warned in a report to the council in March that insecurity "continues to rage" in the country, with widespread trafficking of migrants, drugs and weapons.

The draft resolution circulated to the council late Tuesday would keep MINUSMA's troop level at 13,289 and police at 1,920 until June 2019.

It requests that Guterres step up deployment of military assets such as helicopters and other logistical support that the mission badly needs to cover the large territory.

With presidential elections to be held in Mali next month, the measure calls for an "inclusive, free, fair, transparent, credible" vote.

Guterres will report to the council every three months on the crisis and present a "transition plan" with a view to a possible long-term exit strategy for the mission, according to the draft.

Backed by France, Mali and four other countries have set up a regional force to fight jihadists in the Sahel but the so-called G5 force has been deploying slowly and struggling with funding.

The council is expected to vote on the draft resolution on June 28.

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