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Situation in Mali - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/844)

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I. Introduction

1. By its resolution 2584 (2021), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until 30 June 2022 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/2021/519) dated 1 June 2021.

II. Major developments

2. The reporting period was marked by a change in the leadership of the transitional Government, following the coup d’état of 24 May. On 20 July, the new President of the transitional Government, Colonel Assimi Goïta, was the target of an assassination attempt at the Great Mosque in Bamako. While the action plan of the new Government was endorsed by the National Transition Council, the parliament of the transition, on 2 August, preparations for the holding of legislative and presidential elections, scheduled to take place in February and March 2022, and bring the transition to its end were delayed. Meanwhile, there was limited progress in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, signed in 2015, as the focus of key political stakeholders appeared to shift.

A. Political transition

3. Following the coup d’état of 24 May, a new President and Prime Minister of the transitional Government took office. On 7 June, Colonel Assimi Goïta, the former Vice-President of the transitional Government, was sworn in as the President of the transitional Government. On the same day, he appointed the President of the Strategic Committee of the Mouvement du 5 juin-Rassemblement des forces patriotiques (M5-RFP), Choguel Kokalla Maïga, as Prime Minister of the transitional Government. These developments were met with mixed reactions. Some political actors generally welcomed the developments and expressed hope that the new authorities would surmount the challenges facing Mali and make progress towards a successful return to constitutional order, whereas other stakeholders expressed reservations and criticized the new Government.

4. On 11 June, the President signed a decree appointing a new Government of 28 members. Eleven ministers from the previous cabinet kept their portfolios, including Colonel Sadio Camara, Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga and Colonel Major Ismaël Wagué. Colonel Modibo Kone, who until then had been the Minister of Security, was appointed Director of State Security. M5-RFP, which had boycotted the previous Government, was allocated seven ministries. The new Government includes representatives of signatory armed groups, trade unions and civil society, of whom six are women, representing 21.4 per cent, which is well below the legal requirement of 30 per cent.

5. Some political parties and platforms criticized the new Government. The Ensemble pour le Mali, the Alliance pour la démocratie au Mali-Parti africain pour la solidarité et la justice, the Parti pour la renaissance nationale and the Rassemblement pour le Mali, criticized the composition of the Government, arguing that it was not inclusive enough. The Administrative Secretary of the largest labour union, the Union nationale des travailleurs du Mali, regretted the presence of only two trade unionists in the new Government, which, in his view, would prevent it from addressing workers’ grievances. Conversely, the national civil society forum welcomed the new cabinet, especially the inclusion of its President, Bakary Doumbia.

6. After his appointment, the Prime Minister initiated consultations with national stakeholders on the establishment of a single election management body and the holding of a wide-ranging national dialogue on reform (Assises nationales de la refondation) long demanded by M5-RFP. In July, the Government announced the future establishment of the election management body and later confirmed plans to hold the national dialogue by the end of September.

7. On 20 July, the President was the victim of an assassination attempt at the Great Mosque of Bamako, where he was attending the celebration of Eid al-Adha. The suspect was subdued and arrested. On 21 July, authorities opened an investigation into the incident. On 25 July, the Government announced that the suspect had d ied while in custody, adding that the investigation would continue as the evidence gathered appear to indicate that the suspect had not acted alone.

8. On 30 July, at the request of the President and the Prime Minister of the transitional Government, the National Transition Council convened an extraordinary session during which the Prime Minister presented the Government’s action plan. The plan is built around four axes articulated by the previous Government, specifically:

(a) improving national security; (b) political and institutional reforms; (c) the intelligent implementation of the Agreement; and (d) the organization of credible elections. The plan was debated upon and subsequently approved by the National Transition Council on 2 August, with 102 votes in favour, 2 votes against and 9 abstentions. Overall, the plan was welcomed by political parties and civil society groups, although several political stakeholders expressed concerns regarding its feasibility given the limited timeframe and resources.

9. On 26 August, the former Prime Minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maïga, and the former Minister of Economy and Finance, Bouare Fily Sissoko, were arrested on charges of irregularities in the purchase of a presidential jet and military equipment during the tenure of the former President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

10. The local follow-up committee on the transition, composed of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and Head of MINUSMA and the representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union in Mali, held several meetings with transition authorities and national interlocutors, calling for the prioritization of reforms and the publication of an updated timeline for the elections planned in February 2022. The committee also laid the groundwork for regional and international actors to remain engaged in support of the transition process.

11. The Special Envoy of ECOWAS and Mediator to Mali, the former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, led missions to Bamako on 8 and 9 June and 5−7 September, to assess progress in the implementation of the various decisions by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. After meeting with transition authorities and representatives of the diplomatic community, the delegation issued a communiqué on 9 June, calling on the new transition authorities to respect their commitments regarding the implementation of the Agreement, reiterating the call for the formation of an inclusive Government and urging the transition authorities to identify priority actions to implement in the coming months, including the holding of inclusive, transparent and credible elections. During his visit in September,

Mr. Jonathan and his delegation held consultations with the President and the Prime Minister of the transitional Government, members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Mali, as well as other key stakeholders, including political parties, signatory armed groups, civil society organizations and religious leaders. Discussions were focused mainly on the progress recorded within the framework of the transition, including the priority actions of the Government and preparations for elections.

12. The Mediator presented his report during a virtual extraordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on 8 September. On 16 September, ECOWAS Heads of State and Government reiterated their demand for strict adherence to the transition timetable and for presidential and legislative elections to be held in February 2022 and decided to impose targeted sanctions against actors impeding progress in the transition.

13. On 27 August, following efforts by the local follow-up committee on the transition, the Government lifted all restrictions imposed on the former President, Bah N’Daw, and the former Prime Minister, Moctar Ouane, who had been under house arrest since May.