Mali (MINUSMA) - Security Council VTC Briefing

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06-Apr-2021 01:36:50
As Mali faces major security, human rights obstacles, stronger response needed to end terrorism, violent extremism in Sahel, peacekeeping chief tells Security Council.

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Permanent Representative Highlights Transitional Government Measures to Expedite Implementation of Peace Agreement, Hold Free, Transparent Elections

As Mali continues to face major political, security, human rights and humanitarian obstacles, it is of “utmost importance” that the international community ensure that national stakeholders live up to their commitments, the United Nations peacekeeping chief told the Security Council today, as he updated on efforts to advance the political transition and implement the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, called in particular for a strengthened response on the issue of terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel region. Swift implementation of recommendations from the 2020 Pau and 2021 N’Djamena summits will be required, he said.

His appeals follow a 2 April terrorist attack against a United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) camp in Aguelhok, northern Kidal, which injured 26 peacekeepers from Chad and killed four others. Their heroic defense inflicted a very serious setback for the attackers, Mr. Lacroix said, illustrating the determination to support the people of Mali.

Expressing concern about militias operating along ethnic lines in Mali’s centre, he called for a comprehensive approach to improve security conditions, alongside efforts to protect civilians and restore both State authority and basic social services. The approach should also ensure that militias and armed groups lay down their arms and join the dialogue process.

On the political front, he said that seven months into a political transition scheduled to last 18 months, the main institutions responsible for this process have started to function. In February, the Government issued its agenda for the period ahead, which the transitional parliament swiftly voted to approve during its first session.

“It is crucial that the pace of these reforms be urgently accelerated while ensuring that the largest number of actors join the process,” he stressed. The success of the transition will depend on the commitment of the Malian stakeholders to ensure that the process — and the reforms underpinning it — remains inclusive, transparent and credible.

Among the priorities is the completion of political and institutional reforms, he said, including territorial redistricting, electoral reforms and reform of the Constitution. He welcomed the 31 March presidential decree establishing the Comité d’orientation stratégique. Comprised of 50 members from all major stakeholders — political parties, civil society groups and traditional leaders among them — it is tasked with defining the scope of improvements to be enacted. He encouraged Malians to seize this opportunity to find common ground.

As for election preparations, he said discussions have yet to yield agreement on the important issue of poll management. As a result, an official electoral calendar has not been issued. As the elections represent a “litmus test” for the transition, he said boosting their credibility will be essential to preventing this landmark democratic process from triggering further political instability.

While efforts to carry out the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali have been slow, a new sense of trust among the Malian parties has emerged, he said, alongside measures taken to improve Mali’s ownership of the Agreement. He pointed to a 31 March meeting of the Agreement Monitoring Committee in the southern region of Kayes less than one month after a meeting was held in Kidal, in the north, marking the second such meeting to take place outside Bamako since the signing of the Agreement in 2015. Both gatherings are of major symbolic significance for improving the Agreement’s ownership among Malian stakeholders.

With that, he urged Malian parties to accelerate the redeployment of the reconstituted army units in the north, the operationalization of the Northern Region Development Zone and the establishment of the territorial police. Six months after representatives of the signatory movements joined the Government — a first since the signing of the 2015 Peace Agreement — now is the time to translate commitments made into progress on the ground.

On that point, the representative of Mali expressed the determination of transition authorities to expedite implementation of the peace agreement. The strategic orientation committee, created by the 31 March presidential decree, will bring together 50 people from the political class, civil society, private sector, trade unions, academia, as well as leaders from traditional and religious communities. Other priorities will focus on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants in the northern and central regions, the dissolution of militias and redeployment of security forces throughout the territory.

As well, the Government has initiated reforms for the holding of free and transparent elections, he said, noting that the Prime Minister is in dialogue with forces throughout the country trying to reach consensus on a timeline.

He described the meeting of the Agreement Monitoring Committee in Kidal as a major development and a sign of trust. The Committee’s second session, on 29 March, demonstrated a greater national ownership of the peace accord. These two meetings aimed to expedite decisions on defence and security, deploy the third joint operational company in Kidal and start new disarmament, demobilization and reintegration phases.

As for women’s participation, he said the Government is committed to increase the number of women in the Agreement Monitoring Committee from 9 to 12 and ensure their participation in its subcommittees. Bamako is also implementing the adaptation plan and promoting dialogue among communities, which among other things led to the lifting of a blockade in Farabougou, in the Ségou region.

On the human rights front, he assured the Council of the Government’s determination to investigate all documented cases and take disciplinary actions against perpetrators. Hearings of the Court of Assisi and the military tribunal in Mopti have resulted in convictions of those involved in intercommunal violence and of Malian soldiers in connection with abuses committed during anti-terrorism operations. “We will only win the war if we protect our own people,” he said, asking the Council for a robust and adapted mandate for MINUSMA, strengthened by predictable and long-term funding.

Throughout the meeting, delegates commended Mali’s transitional Government for working to maintain political momentum, pressing authorities to set a timeline for the holding of free and fair elections and calling on all parties to accelerate implementation of the 2015 Peace Agreement.

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