- By its resolution 2364 (2017), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until 30 June 2018 and requested me to report on a quarterly basis on its implementation, focusing on progress in taking forward the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali (see S/2015/364 and S/2015/364/Add.1) and the efforts of MINUSMA to support it.
II. Major political developments
Social unrest, protests against the constitutional reform and clashes between the signatory armed groups that dominated the previous reporting period have come to an end. The nomination of an independent observer, the signing of the document of commitments providing for a cessation of hostilities between the armed groups and the resumption of discussions between the Malian parties were encouraging developments. Nevertheless, the implementation of key political and security provisions of the Agreement continued to face significant delays. The Government’s decision to postpone the elections, initially scheduled to be held in December 2017, to April 2018 can provide additional space for dialogue and promote inclusiveness in the peace process and thus create an environment more favourable to the holding of elections. On the other hand, the deteriorating security situation is exacerbating an already tense political environment and continues to claim the lives of civilians, Malian uniformed personnel and MINUSMA peacekeepers, while impeding the extension of State authority in the north and the centre of the country.
One year after the development of joint benchmarks by the Government of Mali and MINUSMA for monitoring the implementation of the Agreement, some progress has been made on political and institutional, defence and security, justice and economic development measures, as well as in the provision of basic services. Important achievements include the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, the organization of the national conference of understanding, the establishment of interim authorities in all northern regions and the launch of mixed patrols in Gao. The exercise has also contributed to the establishment of a systematic, constructive dialogue between the Government and the Mission, in particular in the field of human rights. Nevertheless, during the reporting period, progress on the implementation of the benchmarks was limited.
A. Implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali after the end of the interim period
Following the resumption of violent clashes between the armed groups during the previous reporting period, the signatory movements signed a document of commitments on 20 September, agreeing on: (a) a definitive cessation of hostilities; (b) the resumption of discussions on the joint finalization of the timeline for the full implementation of the Agreement; and (c) confidence-building measures for the cantonment and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. This was followed by reconciliation talks between the signatory movements in Anéfis from 5 to 11 October, with the financial and logistical support of the Government and the international community. The signatory movements discussed, among other things, a political settlement of the ongoing intercommunal conflicts, the release of detainees and the identification of missing persons; and the root causes and consequences of the conflict. They also agreed that traditional judges (qadi) would adjudicate crimes committed by the signatory groups since 2017, instead of the formal justice system. My Special Representative, in cooperation with the Government and Algeria, intensified his good offices efforts with the movements’ leaders to facilitate dialogue and assisted them in overcoming obstacles. He also underscored the fundamental role of the International Commission of Inquiry in addressing justice-related issues. On 11 October, the movements produced a road map for the implementation of the commitments. Furthermore, they established reconciliation committees to visit the northern regions to disseminate the content of the agreement reached in Anéfis.
On 21 October, the Agreement Monitoring Committee met a delegation of the Security Council visiting Mali. In his remarks to the Council, the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs said that the implementation of the Agreement was on track. The signatory movements, for their part, stated that the Government was taking unilateral action, notably the promulgation on 2 October of the laws on territorial communities, without sufficient consultation with the signatory armed groups. The President of the Council welcomed the movements’ cessation of hostilities but expressed deep concern at the delay in the implementation of key provisions of the Agreement. He warned that the progress made thus far was not yet irreversible and urged Malian parties to accelerate the implementation of the Agreement. The Council reiterated its support for the Monitoring Committee and called for increased national ownership of the peace process.
The Agreement Monitoring Committee met in a regular session on 24 October, during which it was announced that the Carter Center had accepted the role of independent observer. The Government, for its part, announced that the Malian parties would meet under the auspices of the Prime Minister to make progress on the priorities relayed by the Security Council. The Government also indicated its readiness to address the concerns raised by the movements, including on the decentralization and local governance laws, the upcoming elections and the revision of the Constitution.
At its meeting on 5 December, the Agreement Monitoring Committee decided that thenceforth Algeria and MINUSMA would attend all discussions of the Malian parties as observers and, as and when required, mediate differences and provide technical support.
The mixed monitoring and verification teams conducted coordinated missions with military observers in Kidal Region, in areas in which ceasefire violations had been reported during the previous period under review. Conclusive evidence was difficult to obtain, however, given that the incidents had occurred in remote areas. No ceasefire violations were reported during the reporting period.
Political and institutional measures
On 14 and 19 September, respectively, the National Assembly approved the Territorial Communities Code and the Law on the Free Administration of Territorial Communities, which set the framework for the State reform and decentralization process. The Code was promulgated on 2 October by the President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. On 15 October, the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) issued a communiqué in which it deplored the fact that some provisions of the political and institutional measures included in the Agreement had not been incorporated into the Code, which therefore limited decentralization.
On 5 October, the Council of Ministers convened the Electoral College for 17 December for municipal, district and regional elections. On 23 October, political opposition leaders questioned the feasibility of upcoming elections, considering the poor security conditions prevailing in the north and the centre, and criticized the lack of consultations between the Government and other national stakeholders. Those reservations notwithstanding, on 1 and 2 November opposition parties registered their candidates for the elections. On 28 and 30 October, the signatory armed groups threatened to boycott the elections in December 2017 if core provisions of the Agreement were not first implemented and the law on decentralization revisited.
My Special Representative extensively used his good offices and held several meetings with senior government officials, signatory armed movements and majority and opposition political parties, urging restraint and calling for constructive dialogue in support of the electoral process. After intensive consultations with key stakeholders, on 26 November the Council of Ministers announced that the elections scheduled for December would be postponed to April 2018 to create the space necessary to address the concerns raised.
In the meantime, MINUSMA provided technical, logistical, advisory and security support to prepare for the elections, including the deployment of materials and staff to electoral districts in the northern regions and Mopti, as well as to electoral management bodies, including by introducing new electoral tools to strengthen the credibility and transparency of the electoral process, and early warning mechanisms on election-related violence.
Owing to the prevailing insecurity, the number of State officials redeployed to the northern and central regions fell by 6 per cent during the reporting period. As at 15 December, only 28 per cent of State officials were present at their duty stations in the northern regions and in Mopti Region, with Mopti being affected the most by the decrease. Governors of all the northern regions except Taoudénni have been deployed to their respective regions.
In this context of prevailing insecurity, no progress was made on the redeployment of judicial officers to northern and central Mali, and the percentage of officials deployed to those areas remained the same as in the previous reporting period. The judges of Goundam and of Gourma-Rharous in Timbuktu Region, who relocated in the previous reporting period owing to insecurity, have not yet returned to their posts, impeding access to justice.
Following the transfer of power from the regional council to the interim authority in Kidal on 6 November, the 13 members of the Kidal interim authority attended their first regular working session, held from 25 to 28 November. Consequently, all interim authorities can now be considered operational. Over the reporting period, they contributed to the reopening of the high school in Kidal and the rehabilitation of health centres and schools, as well as the digging of boreholes in Timbuktu, Ménaka, Gao and Taoudénni Regions. Nevertheless, the grants provided by the Government notwithstanding, the rehabilitation of infrastructure and equipment and persistent funding gaps remain a challenge and continue to hamper their effectiveness.