CHOGUEL KOKALLA MAÏGA, Prime Minister of Mali, stated that his own country and others in the Sahel are confronted by a hydra of terrorism, violent extremism, and instability. COVID-19 had further negative impacts on the economy and on people’s living conditions, he added. Noting that the country’s people place all their hopes in the ongoing political transition process, he said the Transitional Government includes representatives of the armed forces, as well as members of the movements signatory to the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and representatives of the country’s political and social forces. Despite the presence of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), however, the French Operation Barkhane, the European TAKUBA Force and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, Mali’s situation has not improved since March 2012, he noted. “Entire sections of the national territory are beyond the control of the Government.”
Noting that his Government has established an Action Plan that makes security a “high priority”, he said Mali is also aiming for a security “paradigm shift” in the Sahel. He recalled that Security Council resolution 2164 (2014) directs “MINUSMA to expand its presence in the north of the country beyond the main population centres and in areas where civilians are at risk”. In the face of mass killings, the population feels that MINUSMA’s mission has “changed along the way”, especially since 2015, after the signing of the Peace Agreement, even though the challenges that justified its deployment have remained constant, he said.
Expressing concern about the sudden beginning of Operation Barkhane’s withdrawal, he emphasized: “This decision did not consider the link between the United Nations, Mali and France.” The new situation led Mali to explore ways to better ensure security, either autonomously or with other partners, to fill the security vacuum created by Operation Barkhane’s departure.
Against that backdrop, he called for a more robust mandate and a “change of posture” to give MINUSMA the means to properly carry out its tasks, while stressing that the Government is aware of its obligation to implement the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, including the accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme for 3,000 former combatants. Furthermore, the Government intends to organize transparent and inclusive general elections to mark the return to constitutional order, he said, adding that the polls will be the “barometer of the success of the transition”.
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