The path to peace in Mali was fraught with unexpected obstacles, and implementation of the peace agreement had been delayed by violations of the ceasefire agreements and actions by terrorist groups and trans-border criminal elements, Mongi Hamdi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) told the Security Council this morning.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Mali (document S/2015/732), Mr. Hamdi said that immediately after signing the peace agreement on 20 June (l’Accord par la Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad or CMA), Algeria, Chief Mediator in the peace process, had launched the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord (CSA) and MINUSMA had started to align its existing resources according to its Council mandate and the requirements of the CSA’s sub-committees.
However, the Platform’s taking control of Anefis on 17 August was a serious violation of the ceasefire agreement, halting progress in the peace process, especially the progress in cantonment. There had also been confrontations in the In Khalil region, he continued, adding that he had facilitated a joint meeting of the Platform and CMA leadership to break the political stalemate. Agreement had been reached on ceasing hostilities, re-establishing positions prior to 20 June, and a return to the peace process and agreement on the movement of people without arms. The ceasefire and the terms of the agreement were holding.
He said there was an urgent need to advance the cantonment process and that such advances were currently being made. However, criminal elements had resorted to looting and banditry, fostering insecurity and fear among the population. Calls for the formation of self-defence groups could create added security challenges.
The priority was to rebuild trust among the Malian parties, to promote national reconciliation and to fight against impunity, he said. To that end, MINUSMA was supporting a Conférence d’entente nationale. Those responsible for serious human rights and international humanitarian law violations must be held accountable. Welcoming Mali’s commitment to establish transitional justice mechanisms, he called for a more transparent and inclusive process that would place victims at its centre.
The deployment of MINUSMA military observers, expected to be operational by the middle of October, would help in the task of observing and reporting on ceasefire violation, he said. He welcomed the Council’s readiness to consider targeted sanctions against those obstructing or threatening implementation of the agreement, adding that there was a strong need to ensure the delivery of peace dividends, especially to the population of conflict-affected areas. It was also imperative to involve civil society in the current phase of implementation, including women, youth and traditional leaders, ensuring broad ownership of the peace agreement.
He also noted that the security situation in Mali was part of the situation in the Sahel. In that regard, on 3 September, he had participated in a meeting of Ministers of Defence of the African Union in Bamako to address the situation in the region.
While regretting the delays in the implementation of the Agreement, Mr. Hamdi stressed that concerted action of MINUSMA, the Government of Mali and the International Mediation was successful in bringing the parties back to the logic of the peace agreement.
Following Mr. Hamdi’s briefing, Sékou Kasse (Mali) outlined the ways his Government had implemented the peace agreement, citing the Council of Minister’s adoption of laws for the creation of regional development agencies; the location of Headquarters for the Comité de la Suivi d’Accord; the decision to postpone local and regional elections so that all stakeholders could participate; and the appointment in August of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
In the coming weeks he said, the Government would plan a meeting for the signing of an intracommunity peace pact. In September, it had met with refugees of the M’Béra camp in Mauritania to discuss expediting their return. Schools had been reopened in Gao and Timbuktu; others in Kidal would reopen in mid-October. An anti-malaria campaign had also been launched in that area. Prisoner exchanges covered 16 soldiers from Forces armées et de sécurité du Mali (FAMA) and 32 from armed groups. Other exchanges would take place in the coming days.
His Government had presented to the Comité an action plan to implement the agreement, as well as an emergency plan, to be implemented in this month. The Government also had launched a communications strategy that included a number of awareness-raising campaigns.
Unfortunately, he said, optimism had been undermined by terrorism, drug trafficking and all other organized transnational crime in the Sahel region. As traffickers had targeted civilians, as well as Malian and international armed forces, he called on the Council to support the decision by Heads of States in the Nouakchott Process on the creation of a rapid intervention force.
Delays in implementing the peace agreement had been caused by ceasefire violations, he said, into which he requested an investigation. “These incidents should not serve as a pretext for armed movements to take the peace process hostage”, he stressed. Mechanisms for monitoring ceasefire violations must be activated, he continued, underscoring the need to implement provisions on cantonment, security sector reform, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
As for resources, he said 11.4 billion CFA Francs — or $19 million — had been allocated from the 2015 budget to address humanitarian, refugee and internally displaced persons issues, an amount that would be increased over the next five years. He urged all partners to participate in the financing for development conference for Mali, and to pledge “substantially” to help the country restore peace and security.
The meeting started at 10:06 a.m. and adjourned at 10:34 a.m.