The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday (December 20th) authorising the deployment of an African-led military force to retake northern Mali, a region now occupied by al-Qaeda linked Islamists.
The Security Council gave an initial one year authorisation to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) to use "all necessary measures" to help Malian authorities in retake land held by "terrorist, extremist and armed groups".
The resolution also called on Malian authorities to finalise a transition plan and hold elections by April 2013 "or as soon as technically possible". Meanwhile, AFISMA will be tasked with retraining the Malian defence and security forces.
News of the force was welcomed on the ground in Mali, with an advisor to Malian President Dioncounda Traore telling AFP that the country was "grateful to the international community".
"We are going to wage war against the terrorists and continue to negotiate with our brothers who are ready for dialogue," he added.