‘Critical juncture’ for Mali warns UN mission chief, with democratic future at risk

June 15, 2021
UN peacekeepers on patrol in the Eastern Sector of Mali. — courtesy MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko
UN peacekeepers on patrol in the Eastern Sector of Mali. — courtesy MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko

NEW YORK — Immediate action is required now to initiate critical reforms and lay the groundwork for credible elections in Mali, where the security situation is as worrying as ever, the Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) told the Security Council on Monday.

El-Ghassim Wane briefed the 15-member body via video-conference in the wake of a coup d’état in the landlocked West African country on May 24 — the second in nine months — that cast a shadow over efforts to restore an elected democratic government.

An inclusive approach, strong Malian leadership and political compromise are all vital ingredients for reforms to succeed, alongside steadfast support from international partners such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Wane said.

Instability rife

“Mali is at a critical juncture and we cannot allow it to slide into further instability, with drastic consequences for the sub-region and beyond,” he told Council members.

Both the President and the Prime Minister of the transitional government, Col. Assimi Goïta and Choguel Maiga, have said that they will respect a transitional calendar which calls for elections by February 2022 and that they will not be candidates, he said.

They have also pledged to work with armed movements to speed up implementation of the 2015 Malian peace agreement.

‘Concrete action’

“These commitments now need to translate into urgent and concrete action, which requires the constructive contribution of all Malian stakeholders,” the MINUSMA chief said.

“The time has come for Malian leaders to rise above partisan politics and personal interests and work together in earnest to address the crisis in the interest of their country and its future.”

In that regard, MINUSMA’s support will remain critical, he emphasized.

Turning to the security situation, he said that it remains a big concern in the north and center of the country, with a devastating impact on the everyday lives of civilians.

Already, there are more displaced Malians than during the peak of the crisis in June 2013, he said, with many people living in very difficult conditions.

Schools shuttered

He drew attention to deeply disturbing reports of human rights violations, adding threats from armed groups have forced nearly half the schools in central Mali to close.

Many people want MINUSMA to do more and that is understandable, he said, saying that in far-flung parts of the country, there is little or no State presence — leaving the Mission as the only provider of security and other basic services.

“But MINUSMA will not be in a position to meet all the expectation of these local populations,” he said, adding that the Mission is stepping up its efforts to better inform Malians about its work while also fostering a more people-centered and action-oriented approach.

That includes an action plan for central Mali, to be unveiled in Mopti on June 15, called An Ka Baro Kè (Let’s Talk Together), that will focus on promoting political engagement; enhancing the protection of civilians; fostering community engagement; social cohesion and reconciliation; and facilitating the return of state administration and services, he said. — UN News

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