Situation in Mali - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/1281)

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I. Introduction

  1. By its resolution 2531 (2020), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until 30 June 2021 and requested me to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the resolution. The present report covers major developments in Mali since my previous report (S/2020/952) of 29 September. As requested in the statement by the President of the Security Council of 15 October (S/PRST/2020/10), it also includes updates on the Mission’s support for the political transition in the country.

II. Major developments

  1. Efforts towards the establishment of the institutions of the transition, after the ousting of the former President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on 18 August in a coup d’état, continued to dominate political developments in Mali. Following the appointment in late September of the President of the Transition, Bah N’Daou, the Vice-President, Colonel Assimi Goïta, and the Prime Minister, Moctar Ouane, on 1 October, a transition charter was issued. On 5 October, a transitional government was formed, and, on 3 December, President Bah N’Daou appointed the 121 members of the Conseil national de Transition, the parliament of the Transition.
    Political developments

1. Transitional arrangements

  1. On 1 October, Malian authorities issued the Transition Charter, adopted in September during consultations with political leaders, civil society representatives and other national stakeholders. The Charter outlines the priorities, institutions and modalities for an 18-month transition period to be concluded with the holding of presidential and legislative elections. It adheres to most recommendations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), reflects key provisions of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, signed in 2015, and grants amnesty to the leaders of the coup.

  2. On 5 October, the President of the Transition, Bah N’Daou, appointed a transitional government of 25 members, in accordance with the recommendations of consultations held in September with key political and civil society actors. Th e new cabinet includes four women, or 16 per cent of the cabinet, down from 23.6 per cent in the previous cabinet. It also includes high-ranking military officials, and among them three leaders of the coup, as well as members of the Mouvement du 5 juin - Rassemblement des Forces patriotiques (M5-RFP), the coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups which led the protests prior to the ousting of former President Keïta. The cabinet additionally includes representatives of civil society, and for the first time, four representatives of the signatory movements to the Agreement.

  3. Reactions to the new Government were mixed. The leaders of M5-RFP protested against the participation in the transitional government of some of the coalition’s members and denounced its perceived lack of inclusivity. Women’s organizations deplored the decrease in women’s participation. On 8 October, a group of women leaders delivered a declaration to the Prime Minister, outlining their concerns over what they perceived as their marginalization in the political transition process and decision-making at large. In a statement issued on 9 October, the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad welcomed the formation of the transitional government and expressed satisfaction with the consultations that preceded the formation of the new cabinet.

  4. On 9 November, President Bah N’Daou issued two decrees establishing the National Transition Council. One decree defined the criteria and modalities for appointments in the transition parliament and the other allocated its 121 seats to various groups. The largest number of seats, 22 in total, were allocated to representatives of defence and security forces, 11 seats were allocated to political parties and organizations, 4 to youth groups and 5 to signatory armed movements.
    Numerous other organizations and groups, including human rights organizations and trade unions, were also represented.

  5. The decrees were rejected by leaders of political parties from the previous presidential majority and the opposition, as well as independent labour unions. On 12 November, several political parties and party coalitions issued a joint statement, expressing concerns over the lack of consultations with political parties on the quotas, the lack of transparency regarding the selection criteria and the level of representation granted to the military as compared with the political parties. In an effort to resolve the issues surrounding the establishment of the National Transition Council, leaders of the transition held a series of meetings with political leaders.

  6. On 3 December, President N’Daou issued a decree appointing the 121 members of the National Transition Council. On 5 December, at their first session in Bamako, members of the Council elected Malick Diaw, one of the leaders of the coup and the sole candidate for the position, as president of the institution. Mr. Diaw obtained 111 votes out of 118 votes cast. Several stakeholders, including political parties, signatory movements and civil society organizations criticized the process leading to the appointment of Council members, noting that it did not take into account the outcome of prior consultations.

  7. My Special Representative for Mali and other representatives of the international community in Mali continued to call for a peaceful and inclusive transition process in order to achieve the institutional and electoral reforms prior to the anticipated elections.

  8. In other developments, on 8 October, opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé, French national Sophie Petronin and Italian nationals Nicola Chiacchio and Pier Luigi Maccalli, formerly held hostage by violent extremist groups, were released following negotiations between the Malian authorities and their captors. The hostages were freed in exchange for the release of over 200 suspected members of violent extremist groups detained by Malian authorities, some of whom were under investigation for their presumed involvement in attacks on civilians and on national and international security forces.

2. International response

  1. On 6 October, following the appointment of a civilian President and Prime Minister, and the formation of the transitional government, the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, the President of Ghana, Nana AkufoAddo, announced the lifting of all sanctions imposed on Mali. Following the coup,
    ECOWAS had suspended the membership of Mali and imposed sanctions against the country, including the closure of all land and air borders with ECOWAS member States and the suspension of all financial transactions and most trade flows between its member States and Mali. On 7 October, in line with a request from ECOWAS, the Malian authorities released the 11 political and military officials detained since 18 August.

  2. On 9 October, following ECOWAS, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union lifted the suspension of Mali from the African Union. On 11 October, President Akufo-Addo, in his capacity as the Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, visited Bamako to evaluate progress in the transition process. On 27 November, the ECOWAS follow-up committee on the transition convened in Bamako, with the participation of international partners, including my Special Representative. Participants at the meeting assessed the political situation and discussed the coordination of support for the transition.

  3. On 21 October, the former President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, returned to Mali from Abu Dhabi, where he had travelled for medical treatment, as previously agreed by the Malian authorities and ECOWAS.

  4. From 18 to 20 November, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, visited Mali and met the President of the Transition, the Vice - President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and other national and international actors, including my Special Representative. Mr. Faki stressed the need for Malian stakeholders to deepen consultations, in a spirit of consensus and national interest, with a view to finalizing the transitional organs and ensuring a smooth political transition.

  5. On 30 November, the follow-up and support committee for the transition established by the African Union held its first meeting in Bamako. The Prime Minister presented the programme of action of the transition, with eight priority areas, including reforms, the organization of general elections and the implementation of the Agreement. Representatives of the African Union and ECOWAS, as well as my Special Representative, stressed the international community’s commitment towards concerted and robust action to ensure stability in Mali.

3. Preparation towards the holding of elections

  1. Malian authorities took initial steps towards the preparations for the holding of presidential and legislative elections at the end of the transition period, in the face of significant challenges. On 27 October, President Bah N’Daou met with the members of the Constitutional Court to discuss the upcoming electoral process.

  2. On 29 October, civil society representatives in the Coalition pour l’Observation citoyenne des Élections au Mali stated that a series of strikes called for by labour unions representing civil servants had led to the suspension of the revision of voter rolls and would delay the process initially scheduled to take place from 1 October to 31 December 2020. On 9 November, four such labour unions, including from the ministry of territorial administration, tasked with the organization of elections, launched an indefinite strike, following failed negotiations with the transitional government.

  3. On 22 November, the Minister for Territorial Administration and Decentralization announced the creation of a support unit for the electoral process to enhance inclusivity and improve transparency with regard to the electoral process.
    The transitional government is yet to issue an electoral calendar for the holding of legislative and presidential elections.

4. Support for the transition

  1. My Special Representative continued to engage with President N’Daou, the Prime Minister and members of the transitional government to explore avenues for cooperation and the provision of support. MINUSMA continued its good offices and advocacy regarding key reforms, whose implementation should precede the upcoming presidential and legislative elections. These include the issuance of an electoral calendar and the holding of a constitutional referendum.

  2. In order to strengthen national ownership, the Mission also conducted a series of consultations with civil society organizations, including youth, women’s and workers groups, as well as trade unions, religious representatives and traditional leaders. The objective was to foster their participation in the electoral process.