Presidential Statement on the Situation in Mali and the Sahel
A draft presidential statement on the situation in Mali as well as the security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel region is under silence procedure until 9.30 Monday (26 March) morning. If silence is not broken, the Council is likely to meet formally to adopt the presidential statement. Following agreement from Council members last Thursday (22 March) on a press statement on the “forcible seizure of power from the democratically-elected government of Mali” it appears that some Council members were keen to have a statement covering the wider Sahel region and Mali.
On Friday (23 March) Council members met at the political coordinator level to discuss the draft presidential statement. It appears that the draft under silence procedure is largely based on a draft press statement that had been circulated following the 13 March briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, on the humanitarian situation in the Sahel region. Negotiations on this draft press statement appear to have stalled towards the end of last week. During the meeting of political coordinators on Friday, the text was updated to reflect the changed situation in Mali following the rebellion by elements of the Malian armed forces. (It appears that there had also been an earlier unsuccessful attempt to agree on a press statement on the situation in Mali following the 6 March Department of Political Affairs [DPA] briefing by DPA head, B.Lynn Pascoe.)
A key focus of the presidential statement is the insecurity and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Sahel region. Apparently it conveys the Council’s awareness that this is complicated by armed groups and terrorist groups as well as the proliferation of weapons. Other factors such as drought, food shortages as well as the return of refugees after the Libyan crisis and other crises in the region are also mentioned as contributing to the fragile security and humanitarian situation.
It seems the presidential statement also reinforces the Council’s condemnation of the actions of some elements of the Malian armed forces and its call for the restoration of constitutional order and for democratic elections to be held in April as scheduled. It also condemns attacks carried out by rebel groups and calls for a stop to the violence.
It seems that the main issue of contention during Friday’s negotiations revolved around references to Libya. It appears that some members were keen to establish a stronger link between the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel and last year’s Libyan crisis, particularly in relation to the proliferation of weapons and the return of ex-combatants from Libya. Other members, particularly those who were involved in the NATO campaign in Libya, were reluctant to have Libya cited in these contexts.
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