Mali Transition, an Opportunity to Break Circle of Political Crisis – UN

The current political transition period in Mali offers an opportunity to “break out of the vicious circle of political crises followed by coups d’etat,” the UN envoy in the country told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Following the Aug. 18 mutiny that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, special representative and head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said the country was now four months into a planned 18-month transition period, leading to presidential and legislative elections.

“However, it is never too late to reach a minimum consensus on the essentials of peace and stability, because the future of Mali is at stake,” he said.

Against this backdrop, Annadif said the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States and others “have always stood ready to support Mali’s institutional transitions”.

He said that several missions and meetings had taken place in Bamako since the August coup and described consultations between the government and the signatories of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation as “encouraging.”

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The Malian government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012 that fractured the country, including a failed coup d’etat, renewed fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists.

The weakening of central institutions, loss of confidence in political actors, and the rise of religious leaders demanding change, were among the factors leading up to last August’s events.

As one positive example of political progress being made, the UN envoy drew particular attention to the “positive dynamics” of key officials who visited the restive city of Kidal to organise a “solemn swearing-in hearing of the new governor” on Dec. 31, flagging that “such an event has not taken place in Kidal for almost ten years.”

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Annadif said that notwithstanding a hold up in state appointments, the National Transitional Council had been established on Dec. 3, with Transitional President Bah N’Daou appointing 121 members now acting as a de facto government toward restoring full constitutional order.

Serving as an interim parliament that will vote on political, institutional, electoral, and administrative reforms, the UN envoy called their role “crucial for the consolidation of democracy and the success of credible elections allowing a return to constitutional order, as provided for in the Transition Charter.”

While pointing to “successes” of the international force, the MINUSMA chief acknowledged that security in border areas of Mali, which remains the deadliest UN peacekeeping mission of all, and in the country’s center, remains “worrying and unpredictable”.

He, however, said that MINUSMA had continued to “adapt” to the multifaceted challenges and “strengthen its capacity” to better respond.

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The MINUSMA head lauded the efforts of Malian forces to improve their rights performance and underscored that reforms are a key dimension in ensuring the legitimacy of the next elected government.

He reassured the Council that the foundation had been laid for a successful political transition in the country as well as reliable security arrangements for its diverse regions.

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