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Canada rejects UN request to accelerate Mali deployment

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

NEW YORK––Canada has rejected a UN envoy’s call to accelerate its plans to send peacekeepers to Mali in support of a UN mission, an official said Thursday.

A Canadian official on Thursday said the country is still “several months” away from deploying peacekeepers to Mali.

Byrne Furlong, a spokeswoman for Canada’s defense minister, said: “Details regarding the final structure and chain of command of the Canadian mission in Mali are still to be determined.”

At stake is who will command or oversee the Canadian troops, military equipment, and other mission details “will be addressed during upcoming reconnaissance and negotiations with the United Nations,” the spokeswoman said.

“It is important to keep in mind that preparing for a mission can take several months,” she added.

In March this year, Ottawa said that it would send an infantry unit, military trainers and six tactical and transport helicopters to Mali in August.

But UN special envoy to Mali Mahamat Saleh Annadif said this week the helicopters are needed in June when Germany pulls out of the mission.

Annadif urged that Canada speed things up or that Germany delay its departure in order to avoid a vacuum.

Annadif asked Canada to reconsider its objections to having Canadian soldiers join a rapid response force in the region, where conflict has taken the lives of seven UN peacekeepers this year.

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Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens is a researcher, media issues analyst and senior contributor with Globe Afrique.
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