Nouakchott — Following lengthy consultations between UN Security Council members, the council voted in favour of Mali intervention.
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday (December 20th) authorised the deployment of the African-led military force to retake northern Mali from 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 to 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".
AFISMA will be tasked with retraining the Malian defence and security forces.
"Although the resolution does not specify some outstanding points, it is seen as a victory for the Malian-French alliance in particular, given that it was France that prepared the text of resolution," Malian journalist Moussa Miga told Magharebia.
The resolution "is neither a declaration of war nor a military option," French Ambassador to the UN Gérard Araud said. He also confirmed that the military assault on northern Mali would "take place only at the right time and once the political process has been exhausted".
The resolution also calls for rebuilding the Malian army.
To alleviate the fears of local population over the military intervention, the UN Security Council stressed the importance of "mitigating any adverse impact of military operations on the civilian population".
Analyst al-Mokhtar al-Salem said that was an important humanitarian dimension in the resolution that meets the aspirations of local population, and alleviates the warnings of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and human rights groups.
"Even though the humanitarian dimension is present in the resolution, it will still be difficult to avoid the consequences of war on civilians," he told Magharebia.
"In addition, a possible military victory over the armed groups would require more time and more efforts to convince local population that the international intervention is primarily in their own interest," the analyst added.
"We're not against international military intervention as long as it's under an international umbrella," Nina Walet Ntalo, a minister in the MNLA's unrecognised Azawad government, told Magharebia. "However, we're against the unilateral intervention from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)."
MNLA media liaison Moussa Ag al-Said, told Sahara Media that they would take their final decision about participation in war "based on the results of negotiations".
"This is wonderful news reflecting the will of international community not to abandon Mali," said member of the Front for Democracy and the Republic (FDR) Mustapha Cisse.