posted on Mon 24 Jun 2013 5:31 PM
Briefing and Consultations on Mali

Tomorrow morning (25 June), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on Mali by the head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Albert Gerard Koenders. Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly of Mali is also expected to address the Council. This will be followed by Council consultations where Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Ameerah Haq are expected to participate.

These meetings are a follow-up to the request in resolution 2100 that the Secretary-General present a report within 45 days to the Council assessing on-going major combat operations by international military forces in MINUSMA’s area of responsibility and vicinity, as well as the capacity of terrorist forces to pose a major threat to the civilian population and international personnel in Mali. The report (S/2013/338) was published on 10 June and based on its assessment the Council is expected to decide that the transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) to MINUSMA will proceed on 1 July.

The report highlighted the fluid situation on the ground with armed groups still posing a threat and continued asymmetric attacks by terrorist groups. Council members who during the negotiations of resolution 2100 wanted a tighter definition of MINUSMA’s stabilisation mandate and a benchmark-driven process to decide on MINUSMA’s deployment are likely to express concern over the still fragile security situation. By contrast, Council members who are keen to see the MINUSMA transfer of authority take place on schedule are more likely to showcase the positive developments that have taken place in the country, both in terms of security and the political transition. In spite of this dynamic, it is expected that the Council will keep the 1 July date for the transfer of authority from AFISMA to MINUSMA.

In addition Council members might want to hear more about the Department of Peacekeeping Operation’s (DPKO) progress in preparing for MINUSMA to take over from AFISMA. Among the agreements being finalised this week are a status-of-forces agreement with the interim government, as well as two supplemental arrangements about providing support to AFISMA and MINUSMA’s handing over of detainees to the transitional authorities. In addition to this, DPKO has been consulting with AFISMA’s troop contributing countries (TCCs) on the conditions for the re-hatting and has focused its force generation efforts in countries that have not been TCCs to UN operations lately.

There have also been discussions with France on the practical arrangements for French troops to intervene in support of MINUSMA at the Secretary-General’s request if the mission is under imminent and serious threat. As the Secretary-General indicated in the report, “current timelines for the deployment of military force enablers indicate that most will arrive and be operational in Mali towards the end of 2013”. Council members might want to know how the Secretariat is planning to bridge this gap and how to ensure that it is able to carry out its mandate adequately with its initial operational capability. (Koenders assumed his responsibilities as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSMA in Bamako on 4 June and Major General Jean Bosco Kazura of Rwanda was appointed MINUSMA force commander on 17 June.)

Council members might also be interested in knowing more about the recent adoption on 18 June of the “Preliminary Agreement to the Presidential Election and Inclusive Peace Talks in MaIi”. The negotiations were brokered under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by Foreign Minister Djibril Bassolé of Burkina Faso and involved Malian special envoy Tiébilé Dramé, as well as representatives from both the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad. The main objective was to pave the way for direct talks and to solve some imminent issues, such as the status of the city of Kidal in the forthcoming 28 July presidential elections. The Agreement includes the presidential elections, commitments to a ceasefire, the deployment of the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) in Kidal along with French and MINUSMA troops and the establishment of a joint security commission, chaired by MINUSMA’s force commander, with all parties equally represented to develop the modalities for the ceasefire and other security matters.

In the light of recent cases of inter-ethnic violence against dark-skinned citizens in Kidal, the presence of the MDSF at the outskirts of Kidal and aborted anti-government demonstrations in Bamako, Council members are also likely to be keen to get a better understanding of MINUSMA’s role in the run-up to the elections. In his latest report, the Secretary-General acknowledges that MINUSMA will not be able to provide the level of electoral support they could have provided if the elections had been held in the later stages of MINUSMA’s deployment. Although some UN and civil society stakeholders are concerned about the 28 July elections being too rushed, it is unlikely that this will come up for discussion as a number of Council members have made it clear that they would like to have the elections held as soon as possible.

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