From 1 to 3 February, I had the privilege, together with my Chadian colleague Mr. Bante Mangaral, to lead the Security Council mission to Mali.
During the visit, the Council met with the Malian authorities returned by the elections held in 2013. We had discussions with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister Tatam Ly and several members of the Government. We also met with the armed groups that are signatories to the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement, as well as those that have adhered to the Agreement. On 2 February, we travelled to Mopti, where we met with local authorities and civil society representatives from Mopti, Gao and Timbuktu. On that occasion, we visited the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) camp at Mopti and evaluated the level of deployment of MINUSMA.
Among the numerous lessons we can draw from the mission, I would like to underscore two points in particular: first — with regard to political dialogue — any lasting solution for northern Mali must be found by the Malians themselves and receive the ongoing support of the international community; and, secondly — with regard to security — any lasting improvement to security in northern Mali will require a comprehensive political solution.
First, on the subject of political dialogue, there is the fact that any sustainable solution for northern Mali should be found by the Malians themselves, with ongoing support by the international community. We had an open and fruitful dialogue on that subject with the Malian authorities. The President of Mali noted that any new political agreement should be reached within Mali itself, and the members of the Security Council, for their part, said that they were working to support the work of the democratically elected Malian authorities. The members of the Council also recalled that the armed groups should be disarmed within the framework of a negotiated political process, in accordance with the commitments under the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement. The Prime Minister of Mali highlighted that the two processes of disarmament and dialogue were making parallel progress. He also stated that the modalities for disarmament would have to be laid out in detail in coordination with MINUSMA. The armed groups, for their part, asked that the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement be fully and quickly implemented. They stated that they would like the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and MINUSMA to support that process. We reminded them of their obligation to put their elements under cantonment and engage in negotiations with the ultimate aim of disarmament.
We perceived a lack of trust between the two parties. We expressed our support for Algeria’s efforts to bring the two parties’ positions in line with each other. We welcome the fact that, before we left Mali, the Government laid out the elements for a road map out of the crisis. We welcome the adoption a few days ago by the Government and the armed groups, with the support of MINUSMA, of a method for cantonment, and we now request the parties — both the Government and the armed groups — to sincerely commit to that path without hesitation. The Security Council will continue to monitor the fulfilment of those commitments. We once again commended the Special Representative and MINUSMA for their support to that dialogue.
Secondly, in terms of security, bringing lasting security to northern Mali will necessarily require a comprehensive political solution. Operation Cerval, the French operation, and MINUSMA have noted that the terrorist groups still have the capacity to carry out operations. We recalled the urgency of MINUSMA being rapidly and fully deployed in the north, in particular in the context of Operation Serval’s drawdown. The European operation in Mali briefed us on its work in training the Malian army, including practical education on respect for human rights. The representatives of civil society in Mali stressed that there would be no lasting peace in Mali without development. Only by offering employment opportunities will Malian youth be prevented from joining the ranks of terrorist groups or drug traffickers. The Special Representative felt that the mutual commitments undertaken by the Malian authorities and the international financial partners in terms of Mali’s development should be fulfilled following the Brussels conference of 15 May 2013.
To conclude, I would like, on behalf of the Security Council, to express my sincere thanks to the authorities of Mali for the welcome they extended to the Council and for the constructive and frank exchanges that we had. I would also like to thank the Secretariat and MINUSMA, in particular Mr. Albert Koenders, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for their valuable assistance in organizing the trip.
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