Briefing on Mali
Tomorrow (3 April), following consultations on the programme of work for the month of April, it is likely that Council members will be briefed on Mali by DPA head, B.Lynn Pascoe. Apparently Council members are expecting a draft statement – it was unclear at press time if it would be a presidential or press statement – to be circulated this evening by France. Among the areas that may be covered are the recent gains by Tuareg rebels acting under the banner of the Mouvement National de Liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA), the need for the military junta to hand power over to civilians and for elections to be held on schedule. It seems that some members may also be keen to show support for efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore stability in Mali.
Council members have been following the situation in Mali closely. Following the military mutiny on 22 March that deposed President Amadou Toumani Touré, Council members issued a press statement. A presidential statement on the situation in Mali and the humanitarian crisis in the wider Sahel region followed on 26 March.
It seems Council members, in particular France, are concerned about the gains made by the Tuareg rebels in the north since the military junta came to power. The capture of the ancient city of Timbuktu over the week-end is seen to be of particular significance both symbolically and strategically. At press time, the MNLA had occupied the three administrative regions (Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu) that they claim to be part of the Azawad homeland.
Council members are likely to also be interested in more information on the actions taken by neighbouring countries today (2 April). ECOWAS has imposed sanctions on Mali, closed borders between Mali and member states and frozen access to bank accounts until constitutional order has been established. The ECOWAS military force has also been put on standby.