What's In Blue

Posted Tue 10 Dec 2013

Mali Consultations: Countering Insecurity in the North

This afternoon, Council members will receive a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, on the political and security situation in Mali. Ambassador Gérard Araud (France) is also expected to brief Council members in his national capacity on the implementation of the mandate of the French forces in support of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Council members are likely to raise concerns over the security situation in northern Mali. On 23 October, a suicide terrorist attack against MINUSMA in Tessalit resulted in the death of two Chadian peacekeepers and on 2 November, two French journalists were kidnapped and killed near Kidal in an attack claimed by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. In addition to the existing terrorist threat in the north, tensions continue between former rebel groups and the government. Lack of progress in national peace talks and the absence of clarity regarding the conditions for such a dialogue have contributed to the increased instability. On 28 November, demonstrators gathered at Kidal airport to prevent Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly’s plane from landing. The protesters, reportedly carrying stones and sticks, were shot at by the Malian armed forces, resulting in at least one woman dead and several people injured.

In early November, the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) handed over to the government the Kidal radio station which it had earlier seized in what was perceived by some to be a trust building measure. In spite of this, relations between former rebel groups in the north and the government remain strained. Following the 28 November incident in Kidal, both the MNLA and the Haut Conseil pour l’Unité de l’Azawad suspended their participation in the two follow-up mechanisms of the 18 June Ouagadougou Agreement: the Commission Technique Mixte de Sécurité and the Comité de Suivi et d’Évaluation.

Council members might be eager to hear more about steps taken toward security sector reform in Mali. Recent events highlight the need for such reform, including the 27 November arrest of the 22 March 2012 coup leader General Amadou Sanogo, who faces charges of complicity in kidnapping, and the discovery of a mass grave on 4 December believed to include the remains of 21 “red beret” soldiers loyal to deposed President Amadou Toumani Touré. Media reports have also indicated that the military has killed ethnic-Arab civilians in Timbuktu.

Council members might also inquire about progress made in the transition process, and whether the Assises du Nord and the États Généraux de la Décentralisation dialogue conferences represent genuine and inclusive fora to reach national reconciliation in Mali. Council members are also likely to show keen interest in the preparation for the run-off legislative elections on Sunday 15 December.

There will also probably be interest in Mulet’s assessment of the deployment of MINUSMA and the latest developments in force generation and improvements in MINUSMA’s capabilities after the passing of the 31 October deadline given to contingents on the ground to reach UN standards in terms of contingent-owned equipment and personnel. Council members might ask Mulet if MINUSMA is still expected to be fully operational by the end of the year, as stated in the 10 June report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/338), and how the current deployment pace is affecting the implementation of its mandate. (MINUSMA’s authorised strength is 12,640. As of 31 October, deployment stood at 5,872).

Under paragraph 18 of resolution 2100, France is required to report to the Council on the implementation of its mandate in support of MINUSMA. Araud is expected to brief Council members on instances where French forces have intervened to support elements of MINUSMA under imminent and serious threat, and at the request of the Force Commander, such as the above mentioned 23 October attack. Although not specified in resolution 2100, Council members might be interested in hearing more about counter-terrorism operations conducted by Opération Serval, France’s ongoing military operation, the current assessment of the security situation in northern Mali and the new timing for the expected drawdown of the French forces.

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