U.N. chief proposes peacekeeping troops in Mali

A convoy of French army vehicles head toward Gao, Mali, on February 7.

Story highlights

  • A proposal says West African troops in Mali could become part of peacekeeping mission
  • The proposal is one of two options sent to the U.N. Security Council
  • Under the option, the U.N. would focus on political and development activities in Mali

Up to 11,200 peacekeeping troops could maintain stability in Mali under a new U.N. proposal.

And up to 1,440 police could also participate in a U.N.-led mission there, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the U.N. Security Council released Tuesday.

Under the proposal, the West African multinational force currently in Mali would eventually become part of the U.N. stabilizing mission.

"The proposed authorized military strength of 11,200, based on seven mobile infantry battalions and a reserve battalion with enablers for the geographic and threat environments, provides for a security presence in the major population areas assessed to be at high risk," the report said.

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The peacekeeping troops proposal was one of two options Ban floated in the report.

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Under the other option, the United Nations would focus on political and development activities there.

French and allied forces, including Malian and Chadian troops, have made significant inroads in recent weeks combating Islamist extremist fighters in Mali.

But fighting continues in the remote northeastern part of the West African nation.

French involvement in the conflict began on January 11, the day after militants said they had seized the city of Konna, east of Diabaly in central Mali, and were poised to advance south toward Bamako, the capital.

In total, 4,000 French soldiers are deployed in Mali, according to the French Defense Ministry website, alongside 6,300 troops from Chad and the African-led International Support Mission to Mali.

French officials have said the country will start withdrawing its troops from Mali next month.

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