Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Mali (S/2017/811)

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I. Introduction

1. 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 Add.1) and the efforts of MINUSMA to support it.

II. Major political developments

2. The political and security situation has significantly deteriorated since my previous report (S/2017/478) and the adoption of resolution 2364 (2017) on 29 June.

The resumption of fighting between the signatory armed groups in northern Mali, growing insecurity in the centre of the country and mounting political turmoil surrounding the constitutional review process have delayed the implementation of the Agreement. In response to these challenges, MINUSMA extended its good offices to assist Malian parties in finding solutions to accelerate the implementation of the Agreement. Progress was made with the signature of a truce between the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) and the Platform coalition of armed groups on 23 August and of a document of commitments that includes a definitive cessation of hostilities. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita also decided to stay the constitutional referendum on 18 August.

A. Implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali after the end of the interim period

3. Building on the positive momentum registered during the previous reporting period, the Government and the signatory armed groups committed to prioritizing the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali beyond the expiration of the interim period on 20 June. In this regard, the High Representative of the President of the Republic of Mali for the Implementation of the Algiers Peace Agreement, supported by the international mediation team and MINUSMA, facilitated dialogue between the signatory parties within the consultation framework agreed upon at the high-level meeting of the Agreement Monitoring Committee on 10 February. In addition, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali organized separate meetings with the signatory armed groups to forge a consensus on the operationalization of interim authorities in Kidal; the return of the Governor to Kidal; and the deployment of the Operational Coordination Mechanism and mixed patrols in Kidal and Timbuktu. On 12 June, the signatory parties reached an agreement on a revised road map for the implementation of the Agreement and decided to establish the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Kidal by 20 July. This did not materialize, as violent clashes erupted between CMA and the Platform in the Kidal and Ménaka regions on 6 and 11 July, respectively.

4. The Agreement Monitoring Committee met again on 11 July, and members of the international community and the Government strongly condemned the resumption of hostilities and called for an immediate truce. The Committee welcomed the decision taken on 22 June by the Government to establish a good offices mission for Kidal and the Niger Delta led by Mahmoud Dicko, head of the High Islamic Council. The good offices mission held meetings with traditional leaders and civil society representatives affiliated with CMA in Kidal on 27 July and those affiliated with the Platform in Gao on 1 August. Both groups issued communiqués following their respective meetings with Mr. Dicko. While CMA advocated for the initial deployment of a partial operational coordination mechanism to Kidal, excluding Platform elements, the Platform insisted on its fullfledged deployment, as well as a regional power-sharing arrangements. No agreement was reached on the matter.

5. The Special Representative continued to lead the international community’s good offices efforts in support of the Government’s initiative to obtain an immediate cessation of hostilities. After weeks of fighting, resulting in a significant number of casualties and the displacement of hundreds of families in the Kidal region, on 23 August the armed groups signed a document committing them to a 15-day extendable truce, which was renewed for one month on 6 September. Following reconciliation talks between CMA and the Platform, held from 15 to 20 September in Bamako, the signatory armed groups signed a document of commitments, which provided for, among other measures, a definitive cessation of hostilities and the relaunch of the finalization of the timeline for the full implementation of the Agreement. MINUSMA military observers and the mixed monitoring and verification teams conducted investigations into allegations of ceasefire violations in the Kidal and Ménaka regions. Conclusive evidence was difficult to obtain, since the clashes had occurred in remote areas without a permanent MINUSMA presence.

6. On 22 July, the working group on the independent observer, chaired by the High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, Pierre Buyoya, submitted a list of three qualified candidates for the post of independent observer.
Consultations are ongoing.

7. On 5 September 2017, the Security Council adopted resolution 2374 (2017), which imposed a travel ban and an assets freeze on individuals or entities designated as threatening the peace, security or stability of Mali. The resolution also established a new Sanctions Committee, mandated to monitor implementation of the sanctions measures and to designate individuals and entities subject to those measures, as well as a panel of experts, to assist the Committee in carrying out its mandate, through periodic reporting.

Political and institutional measures

8. The full operationalization of the interim authorities continued to be hampered by internal rivalries and limited administrative, budgetary and planning capacities.
Nonetheless, the interim authorities in Gao, Ménaka, Taoudenni and Timbuktu adopted a priority action plan aimed at enabling access to State funds for the delivery of basic services. In Kidal, disagreements between the armed groups over the establishment of mixed patrols prevented the return of the Platform members who were members of the interim authorities, thereby delaying their operationalization. On 28 June, the Peacebuilding Fund launched a capacity - building project for the Ménaka and Taoudenni interim authorities on aspects relating to territorial division, public works and the provision of basic services.

9. Owing to the prevailing insecurity, there was no progress with regard to the redeployment of the civil administration to northern and central Mali. Despite a slight increase in judicial officers, low deployment rates of State officials continued to adversely affect the delivery of basic social services and undermined citizens’ confidence in the State. As at 11 September, only 30 per cent of State officials were present at their duty stations in the northern regions and Mopti, compared with 38 per cent in January. On 23 August, the Government announced the appointment of new governors for the Gao and Mopti regions, following months of mobilization by civil society calling for the replacement of the governor in Gao. Also on 23 August, the governor for Kidal conducted a three-day working visit to Kidal, the first since his nomination in February.

10. On 21 June, the Council of Ministers postponed the constitutional referendum planned for 9 July, to allow the Constitutional Court to consider a petition filed by opposition members of Parliament challenging the legality of the constitutional review process. On 4 July, the Constitutional Court ruled that the process was compliant with the constitution but proposed amendments to a number of articles, which the Government accepted. On 9 August, following months of growing tensions and demonstrations in Bamako, the platform “An tè a banna! Touche pas à ma Constitution” comprising, inter alia, political opposition members, civil society and trade union representatives, issued an ultimatum to President Keita requesting that he withdraw the draft constitution. On 18 August, President Keita announced that he was staying the referendum on the Constitution in the nation’s higher interest, to preserve a peaceful social climate and to avoid confrontations.
Throughout this period, the Special Representative held several meetings with senior government officials, majority and opposition political parties and civil society groups as well as leaders of “An tè a banna! Touche pas à ma Constitution”.

He urged them to exercise restraint and called for constructive dialogue on the constitutional revision process.