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18.11.2019 Europe

Mali peacekeeping mandate must be strengthened, says Senegal's Sall

By RFI
RFI/Charlotte Idrac
NOV 18, 2019 EUROPE

Senegal's President Macky Sall opened the International Forum on Peace and Security in Dakar on Monday calling for the UN Security Council to agree to a stronger mandate for MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping force in Mali.

"Fighting terrorism in the Sahel is both a duty of solidarity and an imperative for collective security," said Sall, adding, "in Africa and outside the continent we are all threatened, we all have an interest in peacekeeping."

These sentiments were backed by his Mauritanian counterpart Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani. "The UN must reform…in its peacekeeping policy, which is not in line with the issues" security in the Sahel, he said.

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe spoke to the Forum, calling for more cohesion in fighting terrorists in the Sahel.

"One thing is certain: the jihadist groups will benefit, as soon as they can, from our weaknesses, from our lack of coordination or our insufficiencies in terms of means, commitments or training," said Philippe.

"In some territories, we have managed to eradicate, at least to contain or even to reverse the jihadist threat," he said, adding that in other territories, the jihadist threat is developing, thriving "on a breeding ground of pre-existing tensions."

The French prime minister is referring to the recent decline in security, which includes an ambush of a Canadian mining company in early November in Burkina Faso, killing 38 people.

French President Emmanuel Macron last week promised to improve security in the region after meeting with the presidents of Chad, Niger and Mali.

Macron said he would like to build up the G5 Sahel, a group of 5,000 military personnel from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

France already has the anti-jihad Operation Barkhane in place in the region, where 4,500 soldiers have been mobilized.

"Even if these states do not face in a direct way the extension of the terrorist threat, they hold part of the solution to fight it," said Philippe.

   "We must therefore invite them, in a spirit of reciprocal engagement between the countries of the region and international partners," he said.

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