October 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 October 2015
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AFRICA

Mali

Expected Council Action

In October, the Council expects to receive a briefing from the Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mongi Hamdi, followed by consultations. A high-level meeting focused on the implementation of the peace agreement is expected to take place on the margins of the UN General Assembly on 1 October.

MINUSMA’s mandate expires on 30 June 2016.

Key Recent Developments

Since the signing of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali (the Agreement) on 20 June by the Coordination—a coalition of armed groups seeking autonomy for the north of the country—the political process has been marked by major ceasefire violations and other difficulties in the implementation of the Agreement.

On 16 August, the Groupe Autodéfense Touareg Imghad et Alliés (GATIA)—a member of the Platform coalition of armed groups closely aligned with the government—took control of the town of Anéfis (Kidal region), in violation of the ceasefire laid out in the Agreement. Following engagement by the mediation team and President Ibrahim Bobacar Keita’s call for the group to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from Anéfis, the Platform withdrew on 14 September. On 19 September the Coordination returned to Anéfis, in a move criticised by MINUSMA for not being coordinated with the mission.

Several violations of the ceasefire have also been reported in the Gao and Timbuktu regions, and MINUSMA established a security zone covering a 20-kilometre radius around the town of Kidal to protect civilians. Any movement of armed groups’ troops from their positions as of 20 June is considered a violation of the ceasefire. Resolution 2227, adopted on 29 June, mandates MINUSMA to support the implementation of the agreement as well as to support, monitor and supervise the implementation of the ceasefire arrangements and confidence-building measures and to report to the Council on any violations of the ceasefire.

The implementation of other provisions of the Agreement has been hindered by difficulties in agreeing on the membership and timelines of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord (CSA), the main follow-up mechanism to the Agreement, chaired by Algeria, and its four sub-committees. On 23 August, the Coordination announced the suspension of its participation in the CSA until GATIA withdrew from Anéfis. Despite the withdrawal on 14 September, the Coordination did not attend a 17 September meeting of another follow-up mechanism to the Agreement, the Commission Technique de Sécurité (CTS), chaired by MINUSMA’s Force Commander Major General Michael Lollesgaard. Arrangements for joint patrolling by the parties, establishment of cantonment sites and deployment of additional mixed observation and verification teams are contingent on the participation of all parties in the follow-up mechanisms. At press time, another meeting of the CTS was expected on 29 September.

The complete redeployment of civil servants to northern regions continues to be hindered by the security situation. Local and regional elections, which had been originally scheduled for 25 October, have been postponed, given the incapacity of the government to prepare for the elections in the north, as well as the need to review the electoral law in accordance with the Agreement.

MINUSMA, its contractors and other international actors (including NGOs) continue to be targeted by Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist groups through improvised explosive devices, ambushes, suicide bombings and other attacks. On 11 September, MINUSMA suffered its 50th attack when armed men ambushed a convoy; two peacekeepers were wounded. Since its establishment, 42 peacekeepers have been killed and 126 gravely wounded. 

Security incidents have had a negative impact on the distribution of humanitarian assistance in the north, where the movement of humanitarian personnel and goods is restricted. According to the 22 September report of the Secretary-General, the number of security incidents affecting humanitarian personnel in 2015 is almost three times higher than that of 2014.

Key Issues

An overarching issue is the slow and difficult implementation of the Agreement, and ensuring that the CSA and its sub-committees are fully functional and include all stakeholders.

Preventing further escalation of violence by the warring parties and establishing accountability mechanisms for those violating the ceasefire are imminent issues of concern for the Council.

The marked increase in terrorist attacks, the deliberate targeting of MINUSMA and the safety concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries are further key issues for the Council to address.

Options

The Council could issue a statement that:

  • calls on all parties to respect the ceasefire agreement, act with restraint and refrain from any further violence, and threatens to impose sanctions on those violating the ceasefire;
  • urges the parties to act in good faith and with the spirit of compromise in the discussions regarding the implementation of the Agreement;
  • urges Malian authorities to ensure accountability for armed attacks against civilians;
  • requests the Secretary-General to share with the Council the results of MINUSMA’s investigation into the recent ceasefire violations; and
  • reiterates the Council’s support of MINUSMA’s good-offices mandate to encourage and support the full implementation of the Agreement.

The Council could also establish a sanctions regime to impose measures on those violating the ceasefire, whether directly or through proxies.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Despite the Secretary-General’s suggestion in his 11 June report that “the Council may wish to consider the introduction of sanctions against perpetrators of the ceasefire violations”, Council members have not moved forward in this regard and seem to believe that the threat to impose sanctions remains appropriate despite the ceasefire violations by the parties.

Between 2 and 4 September the AU organised a meeting of the Nouakchott process in Bamako focusing on security cooperation in the Sahelo-Saharan region. The meeting’s conclusion was that the establishment of an intervention force brigade to combat terrorism in northern Mali should be further considered. Requests to include such a force within MINUSMA’s mandate have been ongoing since 2013 and have been ruled out by Council members on several occasions. However, it is unclear whether the proposal might gain new momentum if the force were deployed alongside MINUSMA by a regional or subregional organisation.

Council members continue to be worried about attacks targeting MINUSMA in northern Mali. Despite improvements in the living conditions for troops deployed in the north, MINUSMA’s exceptionally high number of fatalities and casualties has led to tension between the troop contributors willing to deploy their forces in the most dangerous territory (whose troops are not necessarily the best equipped) and other, more risk-averse contributors. That tension reflects what is seen as an increasing divide between contributors from the developing and the developed world.

France is the penholder on Mali.

UN DOCUMENTS ON MALI

Security Council Resolution
29 June 2015 S/RES/2227 This was a resolution renewing MINUSMA.
Secretary-General’s Report
22 September 2015 S/2015/732 This was the latest report on MINUSMA.
Security Council Meeting Record
23 June 2015 S/PV.7468 This was a briefing by Special Representative Mongi Hamdi on the Secretary-General’s MINUSMA report and the 20 June signing of the peace agreement by the Coordination, thereby completing the signing process.