Mali 'hesitant' over UN peacekeeping force

French soldiers near Gao France wants to start withdrawing its troops from Mali next month

The government of Mali is "hesitant" over the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, a senior UN official has said.

"We do not have a clear green light from the government of Mali yet for a peacekeeping operation,'' said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.

However, he said other countries were increasingly in favour of that option.

Thousands of troops from France and African nations have been sent to Mali to oust Islamist militants.

They have recaptured the major towns in northern Mali, which had been under Islamist control since April 2012.

Most of the urban areas were taken without a fight, with the militants said to have fled into mountainous areas of the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border.

But on Sunday, there was four hours of fighting in the region's biggest town, Gao.

The town is now said to be calm but the BBC's Thomas Fessy in Gao says there are fears some fighters could be hiding among the population.

Start Quote

For all the enormous challenges still facing Mali, it is perhaps worth clinging on to some of the optimism that seems to have flooded through the country over the past month. ”

End Quote

The city's main market remained closed on Monday, following the violence.

Two checkpoints in Gao were hit by suicide bomb attacks on Friday and Saturday.

The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) has claimed responsibility for the weekend's violence.

On Saturday, Mujao spokesman Abou Walid Sahraoui said: "We are dedicating ourselves to carrying out more attacks against France and its allies."

Mr Eliasson said UN peacekeepers would only be deployed after the "combat phase" of the operation was over.

Despite Mali's "hesitation", he said he thought "the trend is very much in the direction that we should move into that [peacekeeping] phase".

After sending some 4,000 soldiers to Mali, France has said it wants to start withdrawing them in March.

Several thousand troops from Mali's neighbours, including Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Senegal have already been sent to Mali to retain control of the retaken northern towns and also to take care of security in the south.

If the UN Security Council agreed to deploy a force, these troops would form the bulk of it.

Mali's army is in disarray after staging a coup in March 2012.

An alliance of Tuareg separatist and Islamist rebel groups took advantage to extend their control over the whole of northern Mali - an area larger than France.


Are you in Gao or elsewhere in Mali? Have you been affected by the conflict? You can send us details of your experiences using the form below.

Send your pictures and videos to or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories


Features & Analysis

  • Baby in boxStrange case

    The remarkable appeal of the Finnish baby boxes

  • WW1 gas mask being demonstratedTrench terror

    Did the soldiers of WW1 have an irrational fear of poison gas?

  • Mitt Romney, speaks at the podium as he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention 7 November 2012Aura of a loser?

    Mitt Romney looked presidential but could never pull it off

  • A woman holds up a feminist sign.PC virus

    Is liberal speech policing out of control?

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ReadingBest books

    BBC Culture takes a look at ten books you should read in February


  • A car being driven by Cruise Automation technologyClick Watch

    The tech which could allow any car with an automatic gearbox to become self-driving

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.