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Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Mali (S/2019/262)

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Situation in Mali

Report of the Secretary-General

I. Introduction

  1. By its resolution 2423 (2018), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until 30 June 2019 and requested me to report every three months on its implementation, focusing on progress in taking forward the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali (S/2015/364 and S/2015/364/Add.1) and the efforts of MINUSMA to support it. The present report contains updates on major developments in Mali since my previous progress report (S/2018/1174) and my report of 4 March 2019 (S/2019/207) on the implementation of the measures referenced in paragraph 4 of resolution 2423 (2018).

II. Major political developments

  1. As noted in my previous report (S/2019/207), in recent months, the Government of Mali and signatory armed groups have displayed a renewed commitment to implementing the Agreement signed in 2015. The resumption of the constitutional review process marked the most important development during the period under review amid criticisms by the political opposition and disapproval by prominent religious leaders of the Government.

A. Implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali

  1. The Agreement Monitoring Committee held three sessions during the period under review. At its thirtieth session, on 17 December 2018, the Committee acknowledged progress in the implementation of the Agreement, including with respect to the operationalization of the interim authorities and the implementation of the accelerated disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and integration process. The Government reported that approximately $2.9 million had been allocated to the operationalization of the interim authorities. The Government announced the resumption of the constitutional review process, while initiating consultations with human rights organizations and civil society on the projet de loi d’entente nationale. The Committee also endorsed recommendations by the Malian parties to renew the mandate of the Carter Center as independent observer for the peace process and established a working group, led by MINUSMA and the European Union, to identify options to increase the participation of women in the peace process.

  2. The thirty-first session of the Agreement Monitoring Committee was held on 14 January, following the listing by the sanctions committee of one of its members, Mohamed Ousmane Ag Mohamedoun, leader of the Coalition pour le peuple de l’Azawad. The Committee reiterated its commitment to the full implementation of the sanctions regime. Regarding the operationalization of interim authorities at the district level, the parties reported that an additional $1.6 million had been disbursed to 21 of the 24 councils established, for administration and logistics.

  3. During the thirty-second session of the Agreement Monitoring Committee, on 18 February, the Government announced that both legislative elections and the constitutional referendum were scheduled to be held on 9 June, followed by the second round of legislative elections, on 30 June. The Committee condemned the regulations and measures announced on 31 January by the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad in Kidal, including a ban on alcohol and the reinforcement of the power of Islamic judges, which were regarded as a violation of the Agreement. In response, the Coordination issued a press release in which it argued that its actions had been misunderstood and reaffirmed its commitment to the Agreement.

  4. During the same meeting, the independent observer presented its third report on the implementation of the Agreement, in which progress in 2018 was highlighted, including a complete cessation of hostilities that enabled the holding of a peaceful presidential election, the identification of 33,000 combatants eligible for the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, the launch of the accelerated disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and integration process and the creation of a dedicated ministry to coordinate the implementation of the Agreement. It was noted in the report, however, that the progress achieved had not yet translated into an improvement in the living conditions of the populations in northern Mali. It was also stressed that the constitutional review process was the cornerstone of the Agreement, given that the implementation of key provisions would depend on it.

  5. Throughout the period under review, my Special Representative continued to use his good offices and worked closely with the parties and other key stakeholders to ensure that they remained committed to the process and continued efforts to accelerate the implementation of the Agreement.

Other political developments

  1. Discussions on the review of the Constitution dominated political debates. The Government established a committee of experts on constitutional reform on 14 January and a national consultation framework – a forum comprising representatives of the Government, political parties, civil society and signatory movements – on 17 January, following a request made by the President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on 20 December 2018 to launch the constitutional review process in a consensual and inclusive manner.

  2. On 4 February, President Keita met members of the committee of experts, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, and reiterated the need for an inclusive and consultative process. Two days later, at a press conference in Bamako, the committee announced plans to hold consultations with all stakeholders and populations throughout the country before submitting its proposals to the Prime Minister on 1 April. The committee has since met the President of the Constitutional Court and the President of the Supreme Court, members of parliament, the Haut conseil des collectivités and representatives of political parties, among other stakeholders. On 5 March, in Bamako, the committee launched a series of citizen forums on the constitutional reform, followed by similar events in regions. The events were attended by representatives of civil society, youth and women groups, political parties and traditional and religious authorities.

  3. Members of the national consultation framework have held several meetings since its creation in January. Most of the major political parties, including the opposition party Union pour la république et la démocratie, led by Soumaïla Cissé, attended the first meeting, on 30 January, but boycotted the subsequent meetings. Parties belonging to the ruling party coalition continued to attend the meetings. In a statement issued on 1 February, the Union called for the holding of a high-level political dialogue with the participation of a wide array of stakeholders on numerous institutional, political and electoral issues. Other opposition parties close to the Union questioned the legitimacy of the framework, claiming that it was insufficiently inclusive.

  4. In response to criticism, on 28 February, the Prime Minister signed another decree to include all 197 political parties in the national consultation framework. In addition, it is stipulated in the decree that the framework will be consulted on questions related to the draft laws on the creation of administrative districts and territorial collectivities, revisions to the electoral law, draft laws on the number of members of parliament, the calendar for elections and the constitutional referendum and all questions regarding elections and the referendum.

  5. The leader of the presidential majority, Bokary Tréta, held a series of meetings with political party and platform leaders, including from the opposition, notably the Front pour la sauvegarde de la démocratie, a coalition of opposition parties also led by Mr. Cissé, on 12 February, and with the Coalition des forces patriotiques, on 19 February, as well as representatives of civil society groups, to garner support for the constitutional review process.

  6. On 14 February, President Keita and Mr. Cissé had a telephone conversation, followed by a series of meetings at the presidential palace on 26 February and in early March, putting an end to months of a strained relationship. Both men agreed to tackle the most pressing challenges facing Mali. President Keita has since continued to hold meetings with other opposition leaders, including Tiébilé Dramé, a close ally of Mr. Cissé and the president of the Parti pour la renaissance nationale, on 6 March, and Cheick Modibo Diarra, president of the Rassemblement pour le développement du Mali, on 11 March.

  7. My Special Representative intensified his engagement with the Government and leaders across the political spectrum to ensure the constructive participation of all actors in the political process and to help the parties to addr ess differences through dialogue. MINUSMA provided technical support to the work of the committee of experts.

  8. On 10 February, Mahmoud Dicko, the President of Mali’s High Islamic Council, and Bouye Haidara, leader of a Muslim community based in Nioro in Western Mali, organized a rally in Bamako. An estimated 60,000 people, including some representatives of the political opposition, participated. In their address, the religious leaders called for the resignation of the Prime Minister.

Institutional measures

  1. Since my previous progress report, there has been a decrease in the percentage of civil administrators present at their duty stations in northern and central Mali, from 34 to 29 per cent, due mainly to security concerns. The Governors of Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal and Ménaka were present in their localities, while the Governor of Taoudenni continued to operate from Timbuktu. Five district-level interim administrations were installed in the regions of Kidal and Taoudenni, bringing the total number to 21.

  2. A modest increase, by 2.1 per cent, in the number of appointed judicial and prison officials deployed in northern and central Mali was recorded, although insecurity continued to cause absenteeism and the relocation of some staff.

  3. On 20 February, the magistrates’ unions denounced the Government’s inability to improve security conditions in parts of the country and called upon magistrates throughout Mali who feel unsafe to relocate to Bamako or to more secured jurisdictions. This followed the confirmation on 19 February by the Ministry of Justice of the death of the President of the Niono Court (Ségou region), who was abducted by unidentified armed men on 16 November 2017.

  4. On 21 February, with MINUSMA logistical and technical support, a mobile court was held in Bourem, Gao region, marking a significant step in the effective return of the justice sector in the region. Since 2012, actors in the formal justice system have been absent in Bourem, rendering justice from Gao.

Defence and security measures

  1. As outlined in my previous report (S/2019/207), 1,423 ex-combatants of signatory armed groups, along with ex-combatants from non-signatory but compliant armed movements, were registered for integration into the national army within the framework of the accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. As a next step, they will undergo a three-month training in Koutiala, Séguéla and Markala in southern Mali by the Malian defence and security forces, with the support of MINUSMA and the European Union. Following completion of the training, these former combatants will form part of the Malian army tasked with providing security to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration operations and camps. Some 417 combatants of the Operational Coordination Mechanism are also scheduled to participate in an additional phase of the accelerated, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.

  2. On 23 December 2018, during a visit to Mopti region, the Prime Minister announced the launch of disarmament initiatives for the Centre. On 5 February, the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission announced that, as part of these programmes, it had pre-registered 5,000 combatants, including members of self-defence groups, militias and repentant jihadists. As a first step, the Commission indicated that it intended to support the reinsertion of 300 combatants into civilian life and the integration of 300 combatants into the Malian defence and security forces.

  3. From 26 to 30 January, the Government invited members of the defence and security forces who had deserted in 2012 to register at military facilities throughout the country. In total, 494 former military personnel were registered. By 26 February, 453 military personnel had been transferred to three training centres, in Bamako, Markala and Séguéla.

  4. On 8 March, President Keita signed a decree announcing a military operation to stop terrorist activities in parts of central and northern Mali. On the same day, the Minister of Defence signed a decree establishing a battalion of special units. In protest, on 15 March, the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad announced that it was suspending its participation in the national consultation framework and the consultation framework of the signatory parties, a discussion forum of signatories to the Agreement. The Coordination argued that the Government’s actions were contrary to the spirit and letter of the Agreement.