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Economic Sanctions on Mali Tightened as West African Leaders Reject Proposed Timetable for Presidential Election, Special Representative Tells Security Council

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SECURITY COUNCIL

8945TH MEETING (AM)

SC/14762

Bamako’s Representative Strongly Condemns Move as Illegal, as Delegates Urge Constructive Dialogue to Set New Electoral Calendar, Restore Constitutional Order

Sanctions imposed on Mali in December 2021 were upheld and new restrictions imposed, following an extraordinary meeting held by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the weekend to assess the situation in the strife‑torn country, the senior United Nations official for Mali told the Security Council today.

El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said that the sanctions were imposed by ECOWAS as it judged the transitional authorities’ proposed timeline for presidential elections — for the end of 2025 — which was found to be unacceptable. However, such measures will be reviewed and gradually lifted with the finalization of an acceptable timetable for elections and progress towards its implementation. Mali reciprocated by announcing the recall of its ambassadors and closure of borders with ECOWAS member States, he noted, adding that the Assises nationales de la refondation, which held meetings between 11 and 30 December 2021, produced recommendations on institutional and governance reforms, which, if enacted, would help stabilize the country and provide a window of opportunity to move forward on implementing the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.

Turning to the international mediation efforts led by Algeria, he noted that the collective met on 5 January and called for a decision-making meeting among Malian signatories to be held in the coming weeks, and to enable overdue progress, notably on global disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, based on the Government’s concrete offer to integrate 26,000 combatants in the next two to three years.

Observing that during 2021, MINUSMA faced the highest number of casualties since 2013 following a significant rise of asymmetric attacks targeting convoys, camps and temporary operating bases, he pointed out its comprehensive efforts notwithstanding, a decade into the crisis, insecurity has expanded, while the humanitarian situation has deteriorated, with heightened food insecurity, an increasing number of internally displaced persons and more children out of school. Therefore, he called for steps to expedite the transition process, stressing: “A protracted impasse will make it much harder to find a consensual way out, while increasing hardship for the population and further weakening State capacity, with far-reaching consequences for Mali and its neighbours.”

Also addressing the Council was Adam Dicko, social activist and Executive Director of the Youth Association for Active Citizenship and Democracy, who painted a dismal picture of the “epidemic” faced by Mali, in which only 2 to 3 per cent of children in pastoral nomads’ families go to school, life expectancy is only 50 years, and heightened inequality is leading to many people in the country feeling excluded from society.

On the deteriorating security situation prevailing in the country, she pointed out that the current military response is inadequate due to its limits and inability to defeat or even contain the threat. “Mali must not become the new site of clashes between global Powers,” she declared, citing Syria, Afghanistan and Libya as examples not to follow.

In the ensuing discussion, many Council members urged the Malian authorities to engage constructively with ECOWAS and international partners in setting out a calendar for holding elections and returning to the constitutional order. Several speakers expressed concern about the extremist threats spreading to the south of the country, with many deploring the increasing frequency of attacks on MINUSMA and its devastating impact on civilians and peacekeepers.

The representative of the United States urged Mali to work with MINUSMA to improve the security environment, noting that her country will continue to support peacekeeper safety by providing necessary training and equipment through the United States’ Global Peace Operations Initiative. MINSUMA needs an increase to its troop ceiling to better protect civilians in central Mali, she said, expressing concern about the reported presence of individuals linked to the Wagner Group who could pose a danger to MINUSMA peacekeepers and to the people of Mali.

In a similar vein, the representative of France regretted the transitional authorities’ use of public funds to pay foreign mercenaries, such as the Wagner Group, which threatens civilians, pillages resources and violates international law. He called upon the transitional authorities to resume the road to dialogue and move towards a credible timeline for elections, to implement the peace agreement and frame a strategy to stabilize the central region.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s delegate countered that Malians have every right to interact with partners who are ready to cooperate with them in strengthening security and described some Council members’ remarks about a Russian company as “hysteria”. Without restoring State control across the country, the results of the elections will not be considered legitimate, he said, adding that the imposition of sanctions only worsens the situation.

The representative of Gabon, also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, urged the Council to respect and embrace the position of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government that Mali’s decision to extend the transitional period to five years is unacceptable and that an expedited transition to constitutional rule should be undertaken without delay. He called on the Council to extend its full support for measures, including the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member States and Mali, and stressed the need to address the growing insecurity in the country, including by bolstering material and financial support for the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force.

Mali’s representative, taking the floor after Council members, said the recommendations put forth by Malians during dialogues in December 2021 will provide a new course of action for the transitional Government. His country’s Government immediately initiated consultations with ECOWAS on the timetable for completing the transition. However, “we were shocked to learn of the imposition of economic and financial sanctions against Mali”, he said, adding that the sanctions imposed by the West African Economic and Monetary Union and ECOWAS are in flagrant violation of the founding texts of these organizations.

In response to comments by the delegate of France on the Malian Government’s use of a private security company, he urged an end to such a false information campaign. There is no mercenary on Malian soil, he said, adding that, however, thanks to State-to-State cooperation, Russian trainers and instructors are in Mali to train Malian soldiers in the use of equipment acquired by Mali from the Russian Federation.

Also speaking today were representatives of United Kingdom, Mexico, India, Albania, Brazil, Ireland, China, United Arab Emirates and Norway.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:05 p.m.

Briefings

EL-GHASSIM WANE, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), presented the latest report of the Secretary‑General on that country (document S/2021/1117) via teleconference. He said that, over the weekend, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held an Extraordinary Summit to take stock of steps taken by Mali towards the holding of elections and a return to constitutional order, which followed a 12 December 2021 meeting during which regional leaders confirmed they will not meet the deadline for the holding of elections on 27 February 2022 and pledged to revert to ECOWAS by 31 December 2021 with a revised electoral calendar. The Assises, held between 11 and 30 December 2021 at the local and national level, produced recommendations on institutional and governance reforms, which, if implemented, would go a long way to support a more stable Mali. Malian authorities conveyed to ECOWAS its outcomes, along with a projection for the holding of presidential elections at the end of 2026, he said, adding that a revised proposal for holding elections at the end of 2025 was produced following a visit to Mali of the ECOWAS Mediator on 5 January 2022.

However, the proposed chronogram was found to be unacceptable by ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, he continued. Therefore, ECOWAS upheld the individual sanctions put in place on 12 December 2021 and imposed additional ones, while urging Malian authorities to focus on a speedy return to constitutional order. The measures include the recall of the ambassadors of ECOWAS member States from Mali, the closing of land and air borders between ECOWAS member States and Mali, as well as the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions — with some exemptions, including for medical supplies and food products — and the suspension of financial assistance from ECOWAS. The sanctions will be reviewed and gradually lifted with the finalization of an acceptable timetable for elections and progress towards its implementation. Mali reciprocated by announcing the recall of its ambassadors and closure of borders with ECOWAS member States.

Against this backdrop, he highlighted the need to implement the peace agreement, stabilize the centre region and secure Mali’s long-term stability. The Assises nationales de la refondation’s recommendations, including the constitutional review, the creation of a Senate and the acceleration of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and the territorial decentralization processes offer a window of opportunity to move forward on implementing the peace agreement. On international mediation led by Algeria and including MINUSMA, he noted that the collective met on 5 January and called for a decision-making meeting among Malian signatories to be held in the coming weeks, and to enable overdue progress, notably on global disarmament, demobilization and reintegration based on the Government’s concrete offer to integrate 26,000 combatants in the next two to three years. Further, a high-level seminar to be organized next week will also allow all stakeholders to better operationalize the Independent Observer’s recommendations.

Turning to MINUSMA’s efforts to stabilize the central region, he stated that 2021 saw more extremist attacks than any years prior, with MINUSMA facing the highest number of casualties since 2013 following a significant rise of asymmetric attacks targeting convoys, camps and temporary operating bases. These coordinated attacks, as well as the death of 28 peacekeepers in 2021, underline the dangerous environment in which MINUSMA continues to operate. Moreover, the conflict has had a devastating impact on the humanitarian situation, as demonstrated by an extremist attack on a bus on 3 December 2021, which killed 32 civilians, and the increase in the number of internally displaced persons from 216,000 in 2020 to more than 400,000 in 2021. Food insecurity is at the highest level recorded since 2014, he said, adding that the response to the humanitarian appeal is insufficient, with only 38 per cent of the required funds received.

He went on to outline measures taken by MINUSMA peacekeepers to protect civilians, main supply routes and key infrastructure in the face of a very difficult environment and capacity challenges, including through an effective response in Aguelhok, in Mali’s far north, complemented by engagement with local authorities and community leaders, and the deployment of a quick reaction force and the establishment of a temporary operating base in Tassiga after threats posed by extremists. However, he pointed out that, a decade after the start of the crisis, insecurity has expanded, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated, more children are out of school and the country has been affected by an endless cycle of instability, all of which would have been worse without the intercession of MINUSMA. Therefore, he called on steps to be taken to resolve all challenges linked to the transition process, adding: “A protracted impasse will make it much harder to find a consensual way out, while increasing hardship for the population and further weakening State capacity, with far-reaching consequences for Mali and its neighbours.”

ADAM DICKO, social activist and Executive Director of the Youth Association for Active Citizenship and Democracy, joining the meeting via videoconference, said that, for 10 years, her country, Mali, has been plagued by conflict, violence and instability. However, the Sahel is full of active and creative youth and the time has come to steer a new course to resolve the crisis in the region. Mali has been attacked by a “virus” of social inequalities. Only 2 to 3 per cent of children in pastoral nomads’ families go to school, and life expectancy is only 50 years. Many people in the country do not feel they are included in society, as power and wealth are seized by a small group of people. “This is the epidemic Mali is facing,” she said, emphasizing that the social contract is broken. Malian youth represent more than 45 per cent of the entire working population, she noted, adding that they are not asking for the compassion of the world to get rid of this “virus”, but simply for the international community to get involved in making positive changes.

On the security front, she said, it is important to note that the current military response is inadequate because of its limits and inability to defeat or even contain the threat. “Mali must not become the new site of clashes between global Powers,” she declared, citing Syria, Afghanistan and Libya as examples not to follow. The protection of peace and security is the responsibility of the Council, she said, urging members to be exemplary in their actions. Malian democracy is sick and those in power negotiate compromises that weaken the already weak democracy. There is an urgent need to guarantee greater transparency in public life and in the Council’s relations with her country. That will allow young people to tear down the myths propagated by malicious actors.

Mali is facing the consequences of poor political and economic governance that fuels despair, hunger and poverty, and young people are the first victims, she said. This issue of governance has been minimized for too long by those who claim that they are solving the crisis in the Sahel. There is a need to bring back a State, not a State that ignores the will of people, but one that is in the service to all Malians. There are “vaccines” against the “virus” of inequality, such as massive investment in social policy. Mali, however, mobilizes precious resources to finance security, often to the detriment of education and health care. Civil society is key to resolving the crises, she said, urging the Council to ensure that those actors are supported, accompanied and strengthened. Civil society can improve governance and bring new solutions. MINUSMA has an important role to play in this regard, provided it integrates local solutions for conflict management and involves local populations in the search for solutions. It’s time to stop “top‑down” decisions, she said, stressing that the Council must step up its intervention concerning the political situation. The Malian people are the first victims of sanctions and they have already suffered enough, she said.

Statements

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said the situation in Mali remains “extremely worrisome”, with transitional authorities not having fulfilled the commitments they undertook before the Malian people and ECOWAS and endorsed by the Council. There is no realistic trajectory for the return to constitutional order, while democratic space continues to shrink. France supports all ECOWAS efforts to ensure Malian authorities meet their commitments and that elections are organized within a reasonable timeframe. Further, he pointed out that there is no longer progress in implementing the peace agreement. He regretted the transitional authorities’ use of public funds to pay foreign mercenaries, such as the Wagner Group, which threaten civilians, pillage resources and violate international law. He called upon the transitional authorities to resume the road to dialogue and move towards a credible timeline for elections, to implement the peace agreement and frame a strategy to stabilize the central region. France is continuing military operations to counter the terror threat in the Sahel, and is bolstering humanitarian aid and support for vibrant civil society. He expressed concern about the risks posed by the Wagner Group to MINUMA’s mandate, and added that lessons must be learned from MINUSCA’s experience in the Central African Republic.

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) echoed concerns raised about recent developments in Mali, while voicing deep regret over the deaths of eight peacekeepers since the Council last met on the situation in October 2021. “The frequency of these deplorable attacks speaks to the severity of the security challenges facing Mali, with dire consequences for civilians and peacekeepers alike,” he said, underlining the need for concerted efforts by the authorities and international partners to stabilize the country. While such efforts should be led by a legitimate Government focused on meeting the needs of its people, Mali instead has a transitional Government focused on extending its time in office. Describing efforts to delay elections by up to five years as deeply disappointing, he said they bring into question the authorities’ stated commitment to democracy and the rule of law and he expressed support for ECOWAS mediation efforts. Turning to security, he said the confirmed presence of the unaccountable Wagner Group risks destabilizing the country further. “The deployment of mercenaries will only increase the challenges facing Mali,” he said, urging the authorities to “rethink their decision” on that front.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said improving the situation in Mali, implementing the peace agreement, eradicating terrorism and rectifying the socioeconomic situation all depend on internal political stability, welcoming efforts of the transitional Government to carry out an inclusive national dialogue with all stakeholders to determine the parameters of reform. Restoring constitutional order is key considering the realities on the ground. His delegation concurs with the view that, without restoring State control across the country, the results of the elections will not be considered legitimate. Imposing sanctions only worsens the situation. Describing some Council members’ remarks about a Russian company as “hysteria”, he said the Malians have every right to interact with partners who are ready to cooperate with them in strengthening security. Criticism of such actions is disrespectful to a sovereign State. Regarding MINUSMA, decisions to enhance its numerical strength should be taken in the light of Bamako’s views. Reiterating the principle of “African solutions to African problems”, he expressed support for any mediation efforts on the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), expressing his condolences for MINUSMA’s irreparable losses while carrying out its mandates, noted that the extension of the electoral calendar by the transitional authorities complicates an already complex security situation, rife with armed conflict and violence. Therefore, it is indispensable for the transitional authorities to not unnecessarily prolong the transition period. Meanwhile, the Council, through MINUSMA, must continue to accompany the process while guaranteeing the conditions to ensure credible elections take place, he said. Mexico supports ECOWAS in supporting Mali’s return to constitutional order. He took note of the recently adopted sanctions, and trusted they will not affect humanitarian work. Only a legitimate government can achieve the long list of pending reforms and satisfy the demands expressed in the national dialogue. He expressed concern about the spread of violence, including in the south of the country, which demonstrates that the international presence is insufficient to stabilize the situation, and called on the transitional Government to reinforce constitutional authority, impose civil authority and guarantee the country’s territorial integrity.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), speaking also for Ghana and Kenya, said their shared interest is for Malians to live in safety and security, urging the Council to respect and embrace the position of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government that Mali’s decision to extend the transitional period to five years is unacceptable and that an expedited transition to constitutional rule should be undertaken without delay. The Council should therefore extend its full support for measures, including closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS member countries and Mali; suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member States and Mail with some exceptions; freezing of Mali’s assets in ECOWAS central banks; freezing of assets of the State and its enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks; and suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from all ECOWAS financial institutions.

He also called for a more adequate response to the growing insecurity, including commensurate logistical, material and financial support to the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force. Only a United Nations support office can provide more direct, predictable, reliable and adequate financial aid to the force, he said, also proposing the deployment of rapid intervention brigades capable of combating extremist groups, as has been done in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He welcomed the signing of an agreement between Mali and Chad allowing the deployment of 1,000 additional Chadian soldiers within MINUSMA, as well as the decision of ECOWAS to activate its standby force for any eventuality in Mali. He also welcomed the ongoing adaptation plan of MINUSMA and the Secretary-General’s call for scaling up uniformed personnel to enhance the Mission’s ability to support Mali in protecting civilians.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) extended his condolences following the killing of seven peacekeepers from Togo on 8 December 2021, and called on the Malian authorities to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice. He underlined the need to expedite the implementation of the peace agreement and safeguard peacekeeping forces. However, given the political uncertainty, he pointed out that decades-old challenges cannot be resolved without all stakeholders being involved in advancing a credible democratic process, and working purposefully towards holding elections. He emphasized the need to implement the Algiers peace agreement, which has unfortunately seen no progress during the reporting period, and called on all parties to work together to carry out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts without further delay. On the security situation, which is worsening due to the spread of activities of terrorist groups, he called for a well-funded response, and added that any restructuring of operations must not create a security vacuum. He called for greater support to be given to the G5 Sahel joint force, and for MINUSMA to be provided adequate resources to safely carry out its mandate. Moreover, given the increased threats to peacekeepers, reporting on the implementation of Council resolution 2589 (2021) must be more comprehensive.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said her country will continue to support peacekeeper safety by providing necessary training and equipment through the United States’ Global Peace Operations Initiative, urging Mali to work with MINUSMA to improve the security environment. Stressing the need to support every effort from MINUSMA, ECOWAS and others to help the Malian authorities to implement the political transition and the Algiers peace accord, she said that those who call for an African solutions should support ECOWAS’ leadership. Her delegation shares ECOWAS’ deep disappointment with the blatant lack of political will by the Mali transition Government towards organizing elections. MINUSMA needs an increase to its troop ceiling, as this will help protect civilians in central Mali. Expressing concern about the reported presence of individuals linked to the Wagner Group, she said that, based on their pattern of behaviour, they could pose a danger to MINUSMA peacekeepers and to the people of Mali. MINUSMA deserves to have clarity on whether these so-called contractors are part of official bilateral assistance. If so, they need to be held accountable by their country of origin. To the representative of Mali, she said that the country, a subject of Council discussions and attention, is not a comfortable place to be. “Let’s work together to bring stability to Mali and to its people, and to bring Mali back into the community of nations where Mali belongs,” she implored.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the authorities in Mali must urgently agree on a comprehensive, politically led strategy to protect the lives of civilians. It is also crucial that the Council provide the necessary troops and military equipment to allow MINUSMA to defend its own personnel, protect civilians, adapt its operation and support the Malian Defence and Security Forces. “We cannot underestimate the spread of radicalization and violent extremism and the influence of new actors in the region,” he said, adding that the deployment of foreign mercenaries only makes the situation more complex. “Mali needs sound decisions and responsible actions, not irresponsible mercenaries,” he emphasized, voicing concern over the steep rise in human rights violations and urging the authorities to pursue effective investigations. Supporting the decisions taken recently by ECOWAS regarding the delay in Mali’s transition, he added that the Council should adopt all necessary measures and exercise all possible pressures on the parties to agree on a reasonable transition period through consensus.

JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) noted that, given the “extremely serious” situation, the transitional authorities’ proposal to postpone for up to five years the return to the constitutional framework, does not contribute to stabilization efforts. The Malian people deserve a prompt transition towards democracy. Brazil supports ECOWAS efforts to ensure the timely conclusion of the political transition. He urged the Malian transitional authorities to heed ECOWAS’ messages and hold general elections as soon as possible. Noting that little progress has been made to implement the commitments by the parties to the peace agreement, he urged all political forces to respect the commitments made in Algiers, in particular the integration of ex-combatants into the armed forces. He went on to echo the Special Representative’s concern about the activities of rebel groups and terrorist organizations in Mali, especially the expansion of the terrorist threat in southern Mali and the uptick in attacks against MINUSMA camps and personnel. As well, reports of human rights violations continue to be commonplace, without those responsible being brought to justice. He pointed out that, while MINUSMA has done everything possible to stave off greater deterioration of the security situation, its mandate should be understood as transitory. A lasting solution depends on the Malian state being able to assume its responsibilities.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said a prolonged political transition will only serve to aggravate instability in Mali. Urging the authorities to engage constructively with ECOWAS and international partners in establishing a calendar for returning to the constitutional order and holding elections, she commended MINUSMA’s work amid difficult circumstances and supported the Secretary-General’s call to increase the Mission’s capacity. However, the authorities must also take decisive action to provide basic social services, access to justice and protect civilians. “This is what matters to the Malian people in their daily lives,” she said, voicing deep concern over the deteriorating human rights situation and reiterating her position that all counter-terrorism efforts, military or otherwise, must abide by international law. Expressing grave concern over increased violations against children and rising rates of sexual and gender-based violence, she welcomed modest recent advancements in the meaningful political participation of women in Mali and called for continued progress on that crucial front.

DAI BING (China), noting that Mali is in the middle of a critical transition period, stated that the international community should support all parties participating in last year’s National Conference for Reconstruction, to help them resolve differences and inject new momentum into efforts towards establishing peace and security. Taking note of recent measures by ECOWAS, as well as the response of the transitional authorities, he encouraged both sides to strengthen dialogue and resolve regional issues. Moreover, outside forces must refrain from exerting excess pressure on Mali. He called on the international community to support efforts of Mali to fight the activities of terrorist groups in the centre and north, which are spreading to the south of the country. Further, the peace agreement must be implemented, with progress made on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration measures, among others. Turning to the dangerous conditions in which MINUSMA operates, which caused too many peacekeepers to lose their lives in 2021, he said weak links must be identified and new technologies used to improve the emergency response and effectively address threats. MINUSMA’s operations should be tailored to conditions on the ground, and deployments should be readjusted accordingly.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) affirmed the need to complete the political transition process in Mali and urged the transitional Government to continue efforts to make tangible progress towards elections. It is also important to coordinate the subregional, regional and international efforts to support the political transition, in line with the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Terrorist groups in the country continue to expand their presence and operations despite efforts to counter them, she warned, stressing the important role of the G5 Sahel joint force to combat terrorism in Mali and the Sahel region. She also highlighted the importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses the root causes of extremism. The provision of humanitarian aid and basic services to the population is urgently needed. For its part, the United Arab Emirates has contributed $17 million to Mali’s development efforts over the past two years. She also expressed hope that the security threats related to climate change in Mali is further considered in line with Council resolution 2584 (2021).

MONA JUUL (Norway), Council President for January, spoke in her national capacity, voicing deep concern over the recent political, security and humanitarian developments in Mali. The transitional Government, “and we as partners”, must address at least three challenges in a coordinated manner. Those include the reported increase in internally displaced persons, the systematic targeting of civilians and continued attacks on schools. The 2015 peace agreement must be respected as the legitimate foundation for peace and continued dialogue in Mali. For the sake of Mali’s youth, she urged the country’s transitional leaders to “tread carefully in the use of the power that they have taken by force”, urging the new authorities to heed the messages from ECOWAS, plan for and hold elections, restore constitutional order and ensure legitimacy and accountability as soon as possible.

ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) said that, in December 2021, the Malians put forth an uncompromising prognosis of the current challenges of the country. The recommendations from these dialogues will provide a new course of action for the transitional Government. These measures will facilitate political and institutional reforms, which will guarantee institutional stability and a better future for the country. His country’s Government immediately initiated consultations with ECOWAS on the timetable for completing the transition. However, “we were shocked to learn of the imposition of economic and financial sanctions against Mali”, he said. These measures contrast with the efforts of the Government and its openness for dialogue towards a compromise, he said, strongly condemning these illegal sanctions taken by the West African Economic and Monetary Union and ECOWAS in flagrant violation of the founding texts of these organizations, and in contradiction with the principles of solidarity and the Pan‑African ideal.

On 10 January, his country’s President declared that, despite the illegal, illegitimate and inhumane nature of certain decisions, Mali remains open to dialogue with ECOWAS, and urged the bloc to reconsider its interpretation of the situation in Mali. The President also reaffirmed his will to spare no efforts to rapidly return to constitutional order in a peaceful and secure manner, he said. Turning to the security situation, he said the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs has launched a special recruitment campaign in the country’s armed forces to increase security capacity in central and northern Mali.

In response to France’s delegate, who accused the Government of Mali of resorting to a private security company, he urged an end to such a false information campaign. Mali has made no commitment with such a company and that there is no mercenary present on Malian soil. Mali has maintained a relationship of State-to-State cooperation with the Russian Federation since 1960. And it is thanks to this cooperation that Russian trainers and instructors are currently in Mali to advise and train Malian soldiers in the use of equipment acquired by Mali from the Russian Federation. In response to the representative of the United States, he said Mali has not and will never adopt a confrontational approach with traditional partners. On MINUSMA, he said that the Government of Mali also consented to the request of Chad to reinforce its contingent by 1,000 additional troops within the Mission.

For information media. Not an official record.