The international community must continue to support dialogue between the Malian parties to achieve a political solution to the crisis to which they would all adhere, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council this morning.
“The crisis in Mali can only be resolved through an inclusive and viable political agreement that can be implemented,” Hervé Ladsous said at a briefing following which the Foreign Minister of Mali, Abdoulaye Diop, also spoke.
Mr. Ladsous underlined the historical opportunity currently present in Mali because the international community had shown willingness to accompanying the parties in reaching and implementing a peace agreement. He called on the parties to seize that opportunity to reach a settlement.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s 27 March report on Mali (document S/2015/219), he said that two of the three Malian parties — the Government and the so-called “Platform” of northern movements — had initialled the text of a draft peace agreement on 1 March, following the fifth round of inter-Malian dialogue in Algiers.
The other coalition of northern movements known as the “Coordination”, however, requested more time to consult with their constituency, he said. Talks had continued between the Coordination and the international mediators, and the coalition had indicated it, too, would sign on next week on the understanding that further talks to clarify modalities of the agreement would follow. That was not certain at this point however, he cautioned.
As progress towards a negotiated solution advanced, he stressed, it was critical that the Malian parties, supported by the mediators, begin putting in place a detailed framework and calendar of implementation. Clear and robust implementation mechanisms would build confidence, he said.
Unfortunately, he said, the security situation remained a challenge, although, on 19 February, the parties recommitted themselves to the ceasefire and it was holding so far. No party should seek to gain ground militarily as peace was only possible through negotiation, and he urged those that had not cooperated with the ceasefire monitoring bodies to do so.
He described what he called serious incidents, not just in the north, but also in the capital city, Bamako, and elsewhere. “Extremism and criminality thrive in the lack of law and order,” he said, stressing that it was critical that all parties distance themselves from violent, illicit activities. The Security Council must also emphasize that point, and he also pointed out that, since the last Council meeting on Mali, three more peacekeepers had lost their lives.
Speaking on deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he said efforts were ongoing to scale up operations in the northern regions. The military component had now reached 80 per cent of authorized deployment and that figure should rise significantly in the weeks to come. At the same time, infrastructure was being built, though hampered by security challenges.
Outreach to local populations was an important component of the Mission’s work, he said, with radio broadcasts in local languages having begun in February. To continue such efforts, budgetary support was needed, for which strong endorsement by the Council would be helpful.
Taking the floor after Mr. Ladsous, Mr. Diop thanked all those working for the stability of his country, paying homage to those who had given their lives in Mali, “for the defence of human dignity, liberty and democracy”. He objected, however, to the statement in the Secretary-General’s report that all parties had violated the ceasefire. “I have to underline that the Government has never violated the ceasefire,” he said, asserting that the monitoring mechanisms had never reported such violations.
He stated that, on the contrary, the Government had played its part in good faith in the Algiers peace process along with the Platform of northern movements, while the Coordination group had refused to join, defying the international community, which had worked for eight months on forging an agreement. The refusal endangers the peace and favoured terrorists and organized criminals, he warned. That could be seen in the deadly attacks in Bamako and elsewhere.
In initialling the draft agreement, he said, the Government had shown its willingness to compromise in favour of the territorial integrity, sovereignty, unity and democracy of the country. Outreach campaigns had engaged all sectors of the population to obtain support for the process by the vast majority of Malians. The momentum must not be lost. Malians were weary of war and wanted peace. “Above all, they want to be heard, understood and respected,” he said.
He believed that most of the Coordination group wanted peace, as well, but their voices were being drowned out by extremists. The Security Council should assist all those who wanted peace by helping move the agreement forward. “There is no alternative to peace, and for that, there is no alternative to this agreement,” he said, adding that an April signing by all parties was critical.
In that context, he called on the 15-member body to consider targeting sanctions on those who would obstruct the peace process, as provided for in previous Council resolutions. Negotiations on the text should not be reopened, he stressed, stating that the Government would never shut the door on dialogue, but the reality was that those talks had been completed and implementation had already begun. Calling on the Council to assume its responsibilities in that regard, he said: “The people of Mali are watching you.”
The meeting was began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:45 a.m.
* The 7424th Meeting was closed.