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Situation in Mali - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/519)

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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 the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the resolution. The present report covers major developments in Mali since the previous report (S/2021/299) dated 26 March 2021. As requested in the statement by the President of the Security Council dated 15 October 2020 (S/PRST/2020/10), it also includes updates on how the Mission supports the ongoing political transition in the country.

II. Major developments

2. After some progress in the implementation of the transition road map, notably the issuance of the electoral calendar and the launch of preparations for the upcoming elections, there was some political upheaval during the reporting period, marked by the arrest and subsequent forced resignation of the President of the transitional Government, Bah N’Daw, and the Prime Minister, Moctar Ouane. Previously, following continued criticism by political and civil society actors, steps had been taken by the transitional Government to render political processes more inclusive. Progress in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali remains slow and was overshadowed by the assassination, on 13 April, of the President of the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) and Secretary-General of the Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad-CMA.

Political developments

3. Political and civil society actors criticized the transition authorities for a perceived lack of inclusivity and clarity in the transition process. On 31 March, the President of the transitional Government, established the Comité d’orientation stratégique sur les réformes politiques et institutionelles by decree. It will serve as an advisory committee to support the Prime Minister on political and institutional reforms, notably on territorial reorganization, constitutional review and electoral reforms.

4. The advisory committee, which comprises 50 members, 10 of whom are women, includes representatives from the transitional Government, political parties, signatory armed movements, academia, civil society, private sector, labour unions and traditional and religious leaders, held its inaugural meeting on 19 April. The 20 per cent representation of women on the committee falls short of the 30 per cent requirement stipulated by law. The United Nations and the African Union continued to promote the participation of women in the political transition through three dedicated workshops.

5. A delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by the former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, visited Mali from 9 to 12 May. With the representation of MINUSMA, the African Union and ECOWAS in Mali, the delegation met with transition authorities, as well as with representatives of political parties, civil society, religious leaders and the diplomatic corps. In its final communiqué, issued on 12 May, ECOWAS welcomed the progress and noted concerns expressed by stakeholders, notably with regard to the prioritization of reforms; the urgent need for a consensus on which structure or structures will oversee forthcoming elections; territorial reorganization; and transparency and inclusivity in the transition process.

6. On 14 May, the Prime Minister resigned and was immediately reappointed; and started negotiations to form a new Government. The reshuffle was preceded by a series of meetings initiated by the President of the transitional Government with representatives of political parties and civil society, notably between the President and the Mouvement du 5 juin-Rassemblement des forces patriotiques (M5-RFP) on 6 May at which the latter called for the transitional Government’s resignation and adjustments to the transition trajectory. Against the backdrop of these developments, on 16 May, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and Head of MINUSMA and the Special Representatives of the African Union and ECOWAS in Mali, actively engaged national actors in efforts to reduce tensions and facilitate consensus on the way forward.

7. On 24 May, the President of the transitional Government issued a decree announcing the appointment of a new Government. In the new Cabinet, the Ministers of Defence and Security, both members of the Comité national pour le salut du peuple, which in August 2020 overthrew the former President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, were replaced. The same day, the President of the transitional Government, the Prime Minister and several government officials were arrested and brought to the military garrison in the town of Kati, were they were detained by the members of the military. The ECOWAS delegation returned to Bamako on 25 May to request the release of the detainees and broker a solution. The resignation of the President of the transitional Government and Prime Minister was announced on 26 May. On 28 May, the Supreme Court appointed former Vice-President Assimi Goïta, a military officer and member of the Comité national pour le salut du peuple, as the new President of the transitional Government. On 30 May, the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held an extraordinary summit in Accra. They condemned what they referred to as a “second coup d’État” and suspended Mali from the Organization, in line with its regulations.

8. Strikes by civil servants persisted across various sectors of public administration. Discussions aimed at assuaging social tensions, initiated by the Government on 13 May, did not lead to a resolution and the Union nationale des travailleurs du Mali, whose objectives are perceived by some as going beyond addressing working conditions in the public and private sectors, began a five-day strike on 17 May.

Preparations for the holding of elections

9. On 14 April, the transitional Government issued the electoral calendar: the constitutional referendum is expected to be held on 31 October 2021; municipal, regional and cercle elections will be held on 26 December 2021; and combined legislative and presidential elections will be held on 27 February 2022. The second round of presidential and legislative elections, if necessary, are scheduled for 13 and 20 March 2022, respectively.

10. There were mixed reactions to the announcement of the electoral calendar. While the announcement was welcomed by Yelema and the Alliance pour le renforcement de la démocratie political parties, the Mouvement du 5 juin-Rassemblement des forces patriotiques criticized the perceived lack of inclusive consultations prior to the publication of the calendar. Civil society actors stressed the need for transition authorities to address popular grievances before holding elections.

11. On 13 April, the transitional Government convened representatives of political parties to the fifth session of the Cadre de concertation national, to discuss outstanding issues, including the composition of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the replacement of deputies in the National Assembly and territorial reorganization. Several political parties underscored that they found that the status quo was not acceptable, with some of them calling for the establishment of a single electoral management body prior to the holding of elections, but no final decision was taken on this matter.

12. Voter registration operations across the country began on 1 April and will conclude on 10 June. Voter registration for the diaspora was launched on 5 May.