|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7202nd Meeting (AM)
Ceasefire Agreement between Mali Government, Armed Groups Opens ‘Narrow Window
of Opportunity’ for Peace, Under-Secretary-General Tells Security Council
Foreign Minister Calls for Additional Resources to Fulfil Mission’s Objectives
Amid deteriorating security and increased violence in the northern town of Kidal, the ceasefire agreement between Mali’s Government and warring armed forces was an “important step in the right direction” to ending the West African country’s protracted crisis, the head of United Nations peacekeeping told the Security Council this morning.
“A narrow window of opportunity has now opened,” said Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, as he briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Mali (document S/2014/403), dated 9 June 2014.
Under the 23 May agreement brokered by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Albert Gerard Koenders, and Abel Aziz, Mauritania’s President and current Chairman of the African Union, the parties agreed to end hostilities in Kidal and recommit to the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement, Mr. Ladsous said.
Subsequently, the parties agreed on the modalities for implementing the ceasefire, under the auspices of Jean Bosco Kazura, the Force Commander of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and Head of the Joint Technical Security Commission, he said. Meeting in Algiers in early June under the auspices of the Algerian Government, three armed groups that were signatories to the Ouagadougou Agreement also signalled their willingness to enter into talks with the Government to address the underlying causes of the conflict.
“The status quo cannot stand: progress in the political process is urgent. The time for peace talks is now,” Mr. Ladsous stressed, warning that the restoration of State authority, re-establishment of security, the protection of civilians and overall stability were contingent upon the successful conclusion of those discussions.
He also highlighted violent events in the north over the past week that were thwarting the fragile peace process and exacerbating the precarious security situation, including the recent suicide attack in Aguelhok that killed four Chadian peacekeepers and wounded six others.
Armed groups had assumed effective military, and to some extent, administrative control over Kidal and other northern towns, in breach of the Ouagadougou Agreement, Mr. Ladsous said. Such moves, along with repeated attacks using improvised explosive devices and indirect fire, against MINUSMA, Malian forces and France’s Operation Serval, continued to impact Mali’s political, human rights and humanitarian situation.
Turning to MINUSMA’s deployment, he said by month’s end it would reach 70 per cent of its authorized civilian strength, 77 per cent of its military strength and 83 per cent of its police strength. Ninety per cent of the Mission’s military assets had been deployed to the north. In May, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had carried out a strategic review to test MINUSMA’s design one year after the Mission’s creation in order to inform the Council’s debate on the way forward.
The main recommendations, as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, focused on adjusting and strengthening MINUSMA’s political role, developing joint benchmarks for implementing MINUSMA’s mandate, and maintaining the current troop and police ceiling. In addition, the Mission’s presence and mobility in the north should be expanded as part of an integrated stabilization strategy, adding or clarifying support for cantonment, local elections, electoral reform, transitional justice and counter-trafficking, as well as for the country’s military.
Mr. Ladsous underlined that the Council’s sustained political commitment was vital to the success of Mali’s stabilization process. A consistent approach was needed from bilateral partners and international financial institutions to make progress in essential peacebuilding areas such as governance and security sector reform.
After the briefing, Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and International Cooperation, pointed to the sudden deterioration of the security situation in country’s north, recalling the attack by rebel Malian groups, supported by terrorists, on the Prime Minister‘s delegation in May which killed soldiers and executed civil servants in “cold blood”. They had also abducted several civilians before releasing them a few days later, under pressure from MINUSMA. His Government welcomed the support of the international community, including the Council’s press statement that condemned the attacks.
The hybrid nature of such threats meant that terrorists were collaborating with other elements of organized crime in the Sahel, he said. Despite such numerous, “barbaric” acts, his Government was doing all it could to create the best conditions for national unity. Following the attack in May, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita immediately called for a ceasefire, upon the Secretary-General’s request. Since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, the Government was continuing to call on armed groups to display good faith and pursue disarmament. All parties must foster a climate of trust to advance the peace dialogue.
He said that former Prime Minister Modibo Keita, newly appointed High Representative of the President, had also urged armed groups to fulfil their responsibilities under the Ouagadougou Agreement. Mr. Keita was working closely with Mr. Koenders, as well as other high-ranking envoys and all efforts by his Office and the Trust, Justice and Reconciliation Commission were complimentary and mutually reinforcing.
Mali was willing to support any mechanism that effectively and efficiently resolved the crisis, Mr. Diop stressed, including Algeria’s efforts to set up explorative consultations between all armed groups aimed at developing a shared platform for inter-Malian negotiations. The initial phase of the inter-Malian peace dialogue in Algiers must be carried out on time, as planned, based on inclusiveness, transparency, and in line with various on-going peace initiatives.
However, to restore the Government’s sovereignty, the Council must bolster MINUSMA’s mandate and equip it with the requisite resources, he said, condemning the fact that one year after its launch, the Mission still lacked the staff and logistical capabilities required to successfully fulfil its objectives. He called for the creation of quick deployment teams capable of operating beyond the country’s major cities in order to address security vacuums where armed groups were active. The Council must also authorize the implementation of joint operations between Malian Armed Forces and MINUSMA to restrict the movement of armed groups that had not signed onto the Ouagadougou accord.
The Secretary-General’s report provides an update on major developments in Mali from 24 March 2014 to 26 May 2014 and recommends extending MINUSMA’s mandate under its current authorized strength of up to 11,200 military personnel and 1,440 police personnel for another year, until 1 July 2015.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:34 a.m.
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