Mali: Presidential Statement on Political Transition*
Tomorrow (15 October), the Security Council will adopt a presidential statement that welcomes the new transitional arrangements in Mali following the 18 August coup d’état, and outlines expectations of the way forward. France, as the penholder on Mali, circulated a draft text following the Council’s 8 October briefing on Mali. Members had until the next day to provide input. On 12 October, France circulated an updated version of the draft, placing the text under silence. The silence period was broken on Tuesday (13 October), though agreement was reached later that same day.
Reaching consensus on the statement appeared to proceed smoothly. At last week’s briefing, members expressed agreement over the need for Mali’s new transitional authorities to adhere to the timeline and reforms set out in the recently published Transition Charter, while continuing to implement the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, to fight against terrorism and to work toward stabilising the country’s central region.
The draft presidential statement underlines that the transition should lead to constitutional order and elections in Mali within 18 months. It calls on regional and international actors, particularly the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the AU, to enhance their support to Mali, recognising the importance of capacity building, and for political, institutional, electoral, administrative and security sector reforms, as outlined in the Transition Charter. Among other points in the draft statement, the Council reiterates the strategic importance of the full, effective and inclusive implementation of the 2015 peace agreement, and calls on the Malian authorities to take expedited action to protect civilians, reduce intercommunal violence and restore peaceful relations between communities in central Mali, including by re-establishing the state’s presence and fighting against impunity.
Members submitted a number of comments following the text’s initial circulation, which it seems the penholder sought to accommodate. These apparently included proposals over how to reflect the efforts of ECOWAS (which has led negotiations on establishing the political transition); adding language on sustainable development; and making more explicit references to legislative and institutional reforms that the transitional authorities have committed to undertaking. At the prompting of the US, the draft statement calls for the dissolution of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), which is an unfulfilled demand of ECOWAS during its negotiation with the junta. (The CNSP was formed by the soldiers who conducted the coup).
China broke silence yesterday, apparently because it wanted sections on an integrated response for stabilising Mali and on humanitarian access to be consistent with previously agreed language from resolution 2531 that renewed the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) this past June. This required minor revisions, and, with edits to two other parts of the text to also make it more consistent with language from resolution 2531, enabled a final agreement.
Other elements in the draft statement include requesting MINUSMA, within its mandate and existing resources, to support the political transition in Mali. It says that MINUSMA should do so, in particular, by exercising good offices, confidence-building and facilitation at the national and local levels, and by supporting, together with the UN country team, the holding of elections. The Secretary-General is requested to include in his quarterly reports on Mali updates on how MINUSMA is supporting the political transition.
*Post-script: On 15 October, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2020/10), welcoming the new transitional arrangements in Mali, following the 18 August coup d’état.