Briefing Security Council on Mali, Special Representative Stresses Importance of Peace, Reconciliation Accord, Emphasizes Keeping to Electoral Timetable

SC/13290
11 April 2018
8229th Meeting (AM)

Briefing Security Council on Mali, Special Representative Stresses Importance of Peace, Reconciliation Accord, Emphasizes Keeping to Electoral Timetable

Despite an ever-precarious security situation that had claimed the lives of civilians and United Nations peacekeepers alike, the peace process in Mali was making headway along a timetable leading to elections later in 2018, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council today.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who is also Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said significant developments in the past three months included the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, who, in March, toured the restive north and central regions, as well as a growing level of trust between the signatories of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation.

While progress towards peace was being made, the fact that 2018 was an election year could not be overlooked, he told Council members.  With presidential elections scheduled for 29 July and 12 August to be followed by legislative elections in November and December, he emphasized the urgency of sticking to the electoral timetable.

However, the first quarter of 2018 also saw a deterioration of the security situation, as well as serious human rights violations, he said.  In line with Council resolutions, MINUSMA was conducting more and bigger patrols to reassure the population, assess the human rights situation and engage with communities in hard-to-reach areas.  Nevertheless, the number of casualties was growing, as demonstrated by the deaths earlier in April of two “blue helmets” from Chad and a third from Nigeria.

Emphasizing the need to better train peacekeepers for one of the United Nations most hazardous operations, he said the Mission remained about short of about 100 armoured vehicles, and that a pledge by Canada to supply six helicopters, while welcome, also fell short of what MINUSMA needed.

Coming back up on the elections, he said implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali was a priority that must not become a political football.  In line with its mandate, MINUSMA had started to lend technical and logistical support, within available resources, including the distribution of election materials and deployment of electoral personnel, while also preparing for any potential violence.  He urged the Council to call upon Mali’s political class to respect the electoral timetable and adhere to the path to consensual, peaceful and credible elections.

Sweden’s delegate, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) concerning Mali, briefed members on its activities, which started on 1 February.  Together with other Committee members, he said he visited Bamako on 26 and 27 March and received first-hand information from key stakeholders on how the sanctions regime could support Mali’s peace and stability.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire — one of seven countries bordering Mali — voiced concern about delays in implementing the Agreement.  “Time is of the essence,” he said, calling on all parties in Mali to engage meaningfully and respect the electoral timetable.  Welcoming Council unity on MINUSMA support for the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel) joint force, he said security measures must be undergirded by initiatives on employment for youth and women, their engagement in politics, the fight against poverty and overcoming regional discrepancies.

France’s representative said recent fatalities among MINUSMA peacekeepers, including two French soldiers, served as a reminder of how the Mission was evolving, but also of the critical role it played.  Calling for progress in such areas as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform, as well as in countering human rights violations and impunity, he said Council members must remember that Mali had been waiting three years for peace.  In that context, the Council should adopt measures to ensure that all parties complied with their road map responsibilities.  The sanctions regime established in 2017 was a first step in that regard, he stated.

The representative of Bolivia said terrorism in Mali was not only placing civilian lives at risk, but also putting the brakes on economic and social growth, exasperating the presence of transnational organized crime.  Emphasizing that the security situation was riven with challenges, he said the root causes of conflict in the Sahel were intertwined with the aftermath of intervention and regime change, notably the 2011 military intervention in Libya.

Agreeing, the Russian Federation’s speaker said the “unbridled spillover” of terrorism from Libya into Mali and other neighbouring States was the main destabilizing factor in the region.  In that regard, he urged Council members to “learn from that lesson” in their future actions.  He added that the sanctions must be used as a measure of last resort.

Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, said his Government understood and shared the sense of impatience and angst regarding the implementation of some aspects of the Agreement.  However, it wanted to reassure the Council and the international community of its determination to see the process through.  There had already been many achievements, he said, not least a halt to fighting between the Agreement’s signatories.  On the security situation, he said terrorists wanted to turn Mali into a place of hate, evil and crime.  That was not a problem for Mali alone, as the shadow of terrorism loomed over the entire region.  There must, therefore, be international support for regional initiatives, such as the G-5 Sahel force, he said.

Reiterating his Government’s determination to hold transparent, inclusive and credible elections, he added that all reports of human rights violations would be investigated.  Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said the Government was, despite limited resources, investing in basic social services and striving to reopen schools.  He went on to voice his Government’s unequivocal support for MINUSMA  and seconded the Secretary-General’s appeal to strengthen its resources.  Concluding, he said there were good grounds for hope.  Peace in Mali was possible and the Government would leave no stone unturned in achieving that objective.

Also speaking today were representatives of Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, China, Sweden, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, United States, Kuwait, Poland, Netherlands and Peru.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:33 p.m.

Briefings

MAHAMAT SALEH ANNADIF, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in that country (document S/2018/273).  He said the reporting period featured the appointment on 31 December 2017 of Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga as Prime Minister of Mali, who, from 22 to 26 March, undertook a tour of his State’s north and central regions, as well as increased trust between signatories of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and some headway in the peace process.  For its part, MINUSMA had assisted the Government to augment its authority in the north and centre of Mali and better provide for local needs.  Despite such progress, the fact that 2018 was an election year could not be overlooked, with Presidential elections scheduled for 29 July and 12 August, and legislative elections in November and December, he said.  Against that backdrop, the Mission was engaging with all Malian political actors, encouraging them to do their part for peaceful and credible elections.

The reporting period had also been marked by a deterioration of the security situation, particularly in the centre of Mali, as well as serious human rights violations, he said, noting the concerns recently voiced by the independent expert on the human right situation in the country.  Welcoming a new national border policy, he said a draft law on national reconciliation was expected to be put before the National Assembly during its April session.  Meanwhile, the transfer on 31 March of Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz to the International Criminal Court underscored that reconciliation was not synonymous with impunity.  With the United Nations country team, MINUSMA had launched an initiative to promote the restoration of State authority in central Mali, as well as economic growth and the provision of social services.

Emphasizing that a purely security approach was not enough, he said the Mission was continuing to support the specialist judicial system tackling terrorism, money-laundering and cross-border crime.  Similar cooperation had enabled a national policy to tackle violent extremism and terrorism to be rolled out.  In line with Council resolutions 2295 (2016) and 2364 (2016), MINUSMA was conducting more and bigger patrols, particularly in the centre, to reassure the population, assess the human rights situation and engage with communities in hard‑to‑reach areas.  Despite such expanded activity, a shadow had been cast by the growing number of victims of landmines, improvised explosive devices and the indirect targeting of shells and rocks, as seen last week by the death of two “blue helmets” from Chad.  He emphasized the need to give priority to the training of peacekeeping troops, adding that the Mission remained about 100 armoured vehicles short.  Troop- and police-contributing countries had been asked to do what they could to fill the equipment gap.  Canada’s offer of six helicopters, while welcome, fell short of what was needed.

Turning to the ongoing strategic review of MINUSMA, he said the Mission was awaiting the Secretary-General’s recommendations with the hope that ensuing discussions would lead to a better alignment between its mandate, on the one hand, and the realities on the ground and the expectations of the Malian people, on the other.  Pending those recommendations, the Mission would work closely with the country team to address the needs of the people, especially women and children.  He noted the contributions that would be made by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017), the independent observer and the International Commission of Inquiry.  Such mechanisms added to the architecture of the follow-up to the 2015 Agreement, with the sanctions regime helping to raise levels of accountability while reminding the parties of the parties of their obligations and consequences, he said.

In addition to its role in security sector reform, MINUSMA — in line with resolution 2391 (2017) and the technical agreement among the United Nations, European Union and the G-5 Sahel reached in Brussels, had sketched out a framework for its support of the G-5 Sahel joint force, he said.  Mechanisms to ensure medical evacuations and logistical support were now operational, he said, noting also the contributions of the Peacebuilding Fund through a $3 million initiative to improve security for local populations.

Reiterating that 2018 was an election year, he said Malian actors must remember that implementation of the Agreement was a priority that must not become a political football.  The peace process was complex, but it was time to move from promises to action and for deadlines to be upheld.  The entire political class agreed that elections must take place on time, with the utmost transparency and credibility.  The international community shared their preoccupation.  Just as the 2013 elections re-established constitutional order in Mali, those in 2018 must irreversibly anchor democracy.  In terms of preparations, an agreement was in place to revise the electoral law and an order had been placed for 8 million voter’s cards.  In line with its mandate, MINUSMA had started to lend technical and logistical support, within available resources, including the distribution of election materials and deployment of electoral personnel, while also preparing for any potential violence.  Concluding, he said the Council must call upon the Malian political class to respect the adopted timetable and encourage them along the path to consensual, peaceful and — above all — credible elections.  The alternative would mean adding one crisis onto another, with the enemies of peace emerging the victors.  They did not merit such a gift.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), briefing the 15-member organ in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) concerning Mali, said his report covered the period from 5 September 2017 to 4 April 2018, during which the Committee had met twice in informal consultations and conducted additional work via the written silence procedure.  On 29 January, it adopted guidelines for the conduct of the Panel of Expert’s work, and on 1 February, that body had begun its work.  On 5 February, the Committee had held its first informal consultation during which members of the Panel of Experts had introduced their work plan.  On 28 February, the Committee had considered the Panel’s first interim update and held a discussion on its work.  Together with other members of the Committee, he said, he had visited Bamako from 26 to 27 March, which had allowed him to obtain first-hand information from key stakeholders on how the sanctions regime could support Mali’s peace and stability, including through the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation.

Statements

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said the tragic recent death of MINUSMA peacekeepers — including two French soldiers — served as a reminder of how the Mission was evolving, but also of the critical role it played.  Recalling that the Council had taken a decision in January to consider additional measures under the sanctions regime if the Government did not meet commitments laid out under the designated timetable, and welcoming initiatives taken since that time by the Government, he nevertheless expressed regret that most of those commitments had not been achieved.  Calling for progress in such areas as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform, as well as in countering human rights violations and impunity, he expressed support for the recent adoption of a new road map based on a revised time frame.

However, he said, Council members should remember that the road map was not the first instrument of its kind, and the country had been waiting for peace for more than three years.  In that context, the Council should adopt measures to ensure that all parties complied with their road map responsibilities.  The sanctions regime established in 2017 was a first step in that regard, but they must go further.  France would engage in efforts to identify all those who obstructed the Agreement’s implementation, leading to sanctions designation proposals, specifically those that colluded with terrorist groups and trafficking networks.  He also called for the urgent establishment of an early warning mechanism in the case of attacks against MINUSMA and civilians.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), voicing his delegation’s commitment to stabilization and peace in neighbouring Mali, welcomed the recent road map adopted by that country’s Government.  Mali still faced major challenges, and it would be impossible to untangle its security issues if the main challenge of terrorism was not combated.  The Government must strengthen its presence across the whole country, he stressed, adding that terrorist activities within Mali often spilled over the borders into other nations.  Regional and subregional cooperation, including through Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union, was therefore critical.  Welcoming the establishment of the Group of Five Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) force as a step in the right direction, he called on the Government of Mali and all signatories to the Agreement to redouble their efforts towards its swift implementation.  In that regard, he aligned also himself with a March communiqué of the African Union Peace and Security Council, reaffirmed the importance of the Nouakchott process and called for enhanced support for MINUSMA, which must be better equipped and better able to train the Malian armed forces.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), paying tribute to fallen peacekeepers and victims of terrorist acts, commended the appointment of a new Prime Minister and his efforts to foster a conducive electoral environment.  Ethiopia welcomed preparations for regional, district and municipal elections in April and called on all parties to work towards their smooth conduct.  The Prime Minister’s announcement of measures to restore State authority and deliver peace dividends was commendable, as well.  However, the continued deterioration of the security situation in the north and south due to terrorist activity remained of serious concern.  Urgent action must be taken to quickly reverse that situation.  Mali was once a viable democracy and a beacon of hope for Africa and there was no reason that it could not be so again, he said, adding that the Council must do everything possible to have Mali’s back.

ZHANG DIANBIN (China), noting recent progress in implementing the Agreement, said the security situation remained grim, with rampant terrorist activity having an impact on the peace process.  Signatories to the Agreement must show political will and work together for national development and reconstruction, he said, voicing hope that the Sanctions Committee would help in that regard.  At the same time, an integrated and regional approach must be adopted to respond to terrorism in Mali and surrounding areas.  Expressing his country’s appreciation for MINUSMA and the Special Representative, he said he hoped the Mission would continue to work in close cooperation with the Government.  China had contributed 400 peacekeepers to MINUSMA, he said, and noting the deaths of “blue helmets” from Bangladesh, Chad and Niger in three attacks so far in 2018, he said there should be strengthened communication with troop-contributing countries and donors to ensure that MINUSMA had the resources it needed to carry out its mandate.

Mr. SKOOG (Sweden), speaking in his national capacity, and welcoming the Government of Mali’s ambitious new plan to restore stability, particularly in the centre of the country, recalled that the Council had on 24 January adopted a press statement clearly setting out its expectations regarding key reforms foreseen under the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation.  “The time to evaluate progress has come,” he said.  Prime Minister Maïga’s visit to the north and central regions of the country were encouraging, as was the process of drafting a national security sector reform strategy.  Voicing regret that many of the deadlines set out in the January timetable had not been met, he reiterated the need for substantial steps forwards towards the full implementation of the Agreement as a prerequisite for successful elections in Mali.  “It is crucial for Mali and the peace process that elections are duly and legitimately undertaken and not postponed,” he stressed, calling on all parties to play their part to those ends.  Women’s participation in that process would be critical, he said, also calling for the further institutionalization of their inclusion in the mechanism supporting the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), joining others in condemning the recent deadly attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers, voiced strong support for the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali as the best way to achieve stability and counter extremists.  Despite recent progress, the persistent delays which had long tested the Council’s patience still remained.  The parties had agreed on yet a new road map, revising existing deadlines, instead of focusing on implementing benchmarks they had already agreed to.  Recalling the Council’s intention to take additional action to respond to spoilers, she said the United Kingdom now supported appropriate action including the imposition of sanctions against those that obscured the Agreement.  It was now up to the parties themselves to do their part, she stressed.  MINUSMA must be properly equipped to fulfil its mandate, she said, calling on States to generously provide equipment and recalling that the United Kingdom had recently contributed several helicopters to operation Pagnali.  Expressing concern about reports of summary executions on the ground, she said human rights reporting and monitoring must be prioritized in the MINUSMA mandate, and hoped the Mission would address such alleged violations.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) said the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation must be the international community’s priority in Mali.  Indeed, addressing the country’s critical security concerns were crucial, but such work must be coupled with efforts to bring about national reconciliation, economic development, good governance, the delivery of basic services and the rule of law.  Also critical would be to ensure the transparent, fair and inclusive conduct of elections later in 2018.  The Mission’s assistance, in that regard, as well as that of the international community, would be critical, as would efforts to improve Mali’s humanitarian situation.  Expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in the country’s north and central regions, he said more robust combat operations were needed against asymmetric threats in those areas.  The operationalization of the G-5 Sahel force, alongside reinforced efforts on the part of MINUSMA and the Malian national security forces, were essential to those ends.

AMY NOEL TACHCO (United States), recalling that the signatories to the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation had, in January, committed to make substantial progress in implementing that accord by March, expressed regret that little had been accomplished.  Available tools to respond to that failure included the Mali sanctions regime, which could address spoilers who obstructed the Agreement, including by colluding with criminals.  “There really is no more time to waste”, as Mali faced critical humanitarian and security situations.  That was particularly true in the centre of the country, where extremists threatened violence against civilians if they failed to cooperate with them.  The recent increase in attacks against MINUSMA and Malian national security forces was also of grave concern.  The Mission’s support to the Government in expanding its presence across Mali was crucial, but that expansion must be viewed as a positive development by local communities.  She, therefore, expressed grave concern about reports of summary executions by signatories to the Agreement.  Also voicing support to regional forces — including the recently operationalized G-5 Sahel force — she emphasized that the people of Mali “deserve better” than what the Agreement’s signatories had delivered to date.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said the deteriorating security situation was deeply saddening.  Pledges made in Brussels regarding the G-5 Sahel force would enable that operation to fulfil its mandate.  Welcoming the road map signed on 22 March, he urged the parties to commit to its timetable.  Implementation of the Agreement was the main solution to the crisis, he said, calling on the Government to provide a conducive environment in that regard.  Emphasizing that the absence of State authority in the north would thwart any comprehensive progress, he welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent visit to that area.  On the humanitarian situation, he called for steps to be taken to avert collateral deaths and injuries during military operations, as well as for the reopening of schools throughout Mali.  The role of the United Nations in Mali and the wider Sahel was irreplaceable and Kuwait looked forward to the results of the MINUSMA strategic review in preparation of the renewal of the Mission’s mandate in June.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), noting that implementation of the Agreement remained slow, said tangible progress was crucial to advance the peace process.  Holding presidential elections on time would be vital for Mali to avoid serious political tensions.  However, a situation whereby the State was absent in large parts of the country might deepen the crisis.  Restoring State authority nationwide was therefore urgent.  She added that the security situation in the north and centre remained crucial, as well as a threat to the wider Sahel.  Counter-terrorism operations meanwhile raised grave human rights concerns.  A multidimensional approach was needed which focused on military operations, creating jobs for youth, and ensuring accountability for serious crimes.  Poland welcomed the technical agreement between the United Nations, European Union and the G-5 Sahel regarding operational and logistical support to the G-5 Sahel force, and commended the tireless efforts of MINUSMA men and women in difficult circumstances.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire), emphasizing that his country, as a neighbour of Mali, reiterated support for the Government in implementing the Agreement, which was the sole framework for a peaceful and lasting settlement of the crisis.  Côte d’Ivoire appreciated progress thus far, but it shared the Secretary-General’s concern about implementation delays.  “Time is of the essence,” he said, calling on all parties to engage meaningfully and respect the electoral timetable.  His country fully supported the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the north, the first of its kind since 2014, which had helped to defuse tensions and restore trust.  It was urgent for MINUSMA to continue its support for the redeployment of State institutions.  Improving the Mission’s capacity with armoured vehicles and air assets was critical, but it must be preceded by calibrated training for peacekeepers in asymmetrical violence.  Welcoming a convergence of views and unity in the Council on the Mission’s support for the G-5 Sahel force, he said his delegation also welcomed the G-5 Sahel’s adoption of a human rights compliance framework, which reflected donor demands and the need to engage with local populations.  To be effective, security measures must be undergirded by robust initiatives on employment for youth and women, their engagement in politics, the fight against poverty and overcoming regional discrepancies.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said terrorism in Mali was not only placing civilian lives at risk, but also putting the brakes on economic and social growth, exasperating the presence of transnational organized crime.  Asymmetric attacks with improvised explosive devices, small arms and light weapons were worsening the situation on the ground, with Malian forces suffering the greatest casualties.  Recalling resolution 2364 (2017), he said MINUSMA must adopt a more proactive stance to fulfil its mandate, and in that regard, he encouraged the Mission to implement its memorandum of understanding with the Government to support the latter’s forces in the field, including with demining and medical evacuations.  Emphasizing that the security situation was riven with challenges, he said deep-rooted causes of conflict in the Sahel were intertwined with the aftermath of intervention and regime change, notably the intervention in Libya which led to the non-State armed presence in the region.  Bolivia would support all initiatives that promoted the well-being of the Malian people and the wider region as a whole, he added.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), spotlighting the many challenges facing Mali — including terrorism, drug‑smuggling and the trafficking in people and weapons — called for action in line with the “three Ps”:  The primacy of politics, performance and the prevention of impunity.  Only a negotiated political settlement would lead to sustainable peace and security, he said, noting that the Mission’s supportive role remained critical in that regard.  The international community, including the Netherlands, had invested heavily in Mali.  “In return, we expect all Malian parties to take their responsibility to implement the peace agreement,” he said.  Calling for a new momentum in that regard, he said peace could only be achieved through an inclusive political process in which all Malians were represented.  Urgent steps were required, especially in the decentralization of State authority, the reform of the security sector and the demobilization and reintegration of former combatants in the Malian armed forces.  He also called for fair, inclusive and peaceful elections, adding:  “We should not shy away from using the sanctions regime against spoilers of the peace process, including those involved in the smuggling economy.”  The Council must dare to reflect honestly on the MINUSMA mandate and the capabilities required to effectively execute it, he said, noting that the Mission’s upcoming strategic review and subsequent mandate renewal provided the opportunity to do so.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), echoing concerns about troubling developments in Mali, said the dangerous potential for conflict — driven largely by terrorist groups — continued to loom over the country.  All stakeholders must align themselves with the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, including by committing themselves to prompt security sector reform and the restoration of civil authority, as well as the conduct of local joint militia patrols in the north and centre of the country.  Condemning attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers, he said such events should prompt the Council to make the Mission fully operational.  That hinged on the provision of the necessary arms and equipment, he stressed, calling on donors to avoid any delay in delivering those items.  Welcoming the regional efforts of the G‑5 Sahel force, he recalled that the Russian Federation had supported resolution 2374 (2017) establishing the sanctions regime.  However, “the explicit use of sanctions needs to be a measure of last resort”, and haste should be avoided.  Drawing attention to the ongoing security crisis in Libya — which resulted from the 2011 decision by some nations to oust that country’s Government — he described the “unbridled spillover” of terrorism from Libya into Mali and other neighbouring States as the main destabilizing factor in the region.  In that regard, he urged Council members to “learn from that lesson” in their future actions.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in areas where Mali’s State control was weak.  Calling for redoubled efforts to pursue decentralization and sustainable development across the country, he also underlined the need to carry out a fair, transparent and inclusive electoral process, fully supported by regional and international partners, in 2018.  Meanwhile, Malian stakeholders should accelerate efforts to implement the country’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme for former combatants, as well as plans for security sector reform.  The crisis in Mali had a knock-on effect across the Sahel region, he stressed, calling for an enhanced regional response to the forces of extremism and the actions of organized criminal groups.  As MINUSMA continued to suffer from a dearth of equipment, he expressed hope that the Mission’s upcoming strategic review would provide a chance for the Council to make all necessary adjustments in that regard.

TIÉMAN HUBERT COULIBALY, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, extended condolences following the airplane crash that took place in Algeria earlier today.  Recalling his January appearance before the Council, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s acknowledgement of the new momentum in the peace process.  The Government understood and shared the sense of impatience and angst regarding the implementation of some aspects of the Agreement, but it wanted to reassure the Council and the international community of its determination to see the process through.  There had already been many achievements, including an end to fighting between the signatories, the return of State authority to many parts of the country and the road map leading to Presidential and legislative elections.

Noting efforts on security sector reform and the demobilization, disarming and reintegration of former combatants, he said progress so far was fragile — all the more, so given a complex and difficult environment of terrorism, violent extremism and illegal trafficking.  Terrorists wanted to turn a country on the road back to democracy into a place of hate, evil and crime.  That was not a problem for Mali alone, as the shadow of terrorism loomed over the entire region.  There must, therefore, be international support for regional initiatives, such as the G-5 Sahel force, he said, appealing for the disbursement of resources and pledges made at the Brussels conference in February.

The Government was determined to hold transparent, inclusive and credible elections, on time and throughout the country, he asserted.  Thanks to a process of dialogue, Mali has never known post-electoral conflict in periods of non-crisis and that would be the case once again, with concerns about the participation of women and youth taken on board, as well.  Emphasizing that all reports of human rights violations would be investigated, he expressed reservations about some parts of the Secretary-General’s report in that regard.  While the Ministry of Justice was investigating alleged human rights violations by the armed forces, the Government rejected claims that soldiers had failed to prevent arson attacks in the Mopti region.  On the humanitarian situation, he said the Government was, despite limited resources, investing in basic social services.  It was also committed to reopening schools, with Koranic schools being integrated into the formal educational system.  Returning to MINUSA, he voiced his Government’s unequivocal support for the Mission and agreed with the Secretary-General’s appeal to beef up its resources.  Concluding, he said there were good grounds for hope.  Peace in Mali was possible and the Government would leave no stone unturned in achieving that objective.

For information media. Not an official record.