Mali faced a serious institutional and security crisis when President Amadou Toumani Touré was overthrown in a military coup on 22 March 2012, just days before the presidential elections. This coup was followed by the collapse of the Malian army in the north of the country, where Tuareg rebels, alongside expanding groups linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), seized large areas of territory. AQIM is also responsible for kidnapping and killing several French nationals in the Sahel region.
The Ouagadougou Agreement was concluded on 18 June 2013 between the interim authorities in Bamako and the groups from the north of Mali (MNLA and HCUA), under the aegis of the mediator Blaise Compaoré. This Agreement provided for an immediate ceasefire, the confinement of troops in the north, and the simultaneous redeployment of security forces and members of the national administration. It also aimed to enable presidential elections to be held in the north.
At the United Nations, France is spearheading efforts to assist Mali and has worked particularly hard to see a number of resolutions passed, including resolution 2100 on 25 April 2013 on the creation of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Since being set up on 1 July 2013, MINUSMA has unfortunately become the peacekeeping operation with the greatest losses: over a year and a half, 33 peacekeepers have been killed in Mali and around one hundred have been injured. MINUSMA is the only peacekeeping operation facing a terrorist threat. This is a major challenge for the United Nations, which is an organization that is generally accustomed to tackling situations where a peace agreement has already been reached.
In view of the serious violations of human rights that have been committed during the crisis, France has also taken action to ensure that human rights are an important component of MINUSMA, and constantly reminds all parties involved that justice and the fight against impunity are essential for national reconciliation.
On 1 August 2014, France launched Operation Barkhane (replacing Operation Serval), to help countries in the Sahel to combat terrorism. French forces have neutralized almost 200 terrorists in the region in the past year. Operation Barkhane also supports MINUSMA, with its area of operation now covering five countries in the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
At a political level, France fully supports the Algiers peace talks. These negotiations between the government and the non-terrorist rebel groups are currently being led by Algeria, with the support of the international community, at the request of the Malian authorities. They should enable Mali to achieve lasting peace and represent a historic opportunity for the country.
The fifth round of negotiations was held from 16 February to 1 March. The resulting draft peace agreement was signed by the Malian authorities and the groups of the Platform. However, the rebel groups of the Coordination refuse to sign the agreement as it stands.
Mopti - 2 February 2014
Photo MINUSMA/Marco Dormino