Thursday, December 2, 2021

UN Security Council Mission Visits Mali and Calls for Vote in February

The UN Security Council mission, which will visit Mali this weekend to assess the security situation, is calling on the country’s authorities to schedule elections for February to fulfill agreements reached with the West African regional bloc following last year’s coup.

The mission, led by Kenya’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, met with representatives of civil society organizations, peace signatories, the Prime Minister of Mali and Interim President Colonel Assimi Goyta during a weekend visit.

“I was struck by the thirst for reforms (both political and institutional) that the majority of Mali’s population wants,” Kimani Sunday said at a press conference. “Now we are waiting for the end of the transition period, which should lead to the organization of elections.”

However, Malian authorities said after meetings with the UN Security Council mission that they want to organize days of consultations in December between Malian groups to determine the path to elections.

“The Mali authorities told us about these meetings as a precondition for the elections. These meetings will take place in December, ”said Abdu Abarri, Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN, who was part of the delegation. “We are not against it, but we only insist that it does not postpone the end of the transition period and does not give Malians the opportunity to choose their leaders.”

Abarri said Goyta assured the delegation that “the transitional authorities are not here to stay in power and any obligations of the transitional authorities will be in the interests of the Malians.”

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Goyta seized power in August 2020, toppling Mali’s democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keith, who served just two years of his five-year term after being re-elected in 2018. Goyta eventually agreed to a transitional government led by a civilian president, but overthrew these leaders in May after they announced a cabinet reshuffle that removed two of the junta’s supporters without consulting him.

In June, Goyta was sworn in as president of the transitional government. He pledged to keep the country on track for a return to civilian rule following the February 2022 elections.

UN diplomats have also raised the issue of security in Mali. The peacekeeping mission in Mali remains the deadliest of all UN missions since 2013.

“The Malian authorities insist that they pay great attention to security challenges and MINUSMA (UN Mission in Mali) stands ready to help them, especially in central Mali, where the threat of terrorism is greatest,” said Nicolas de Rivière. Ambassador of France to the UN

Mali has been grappling with growing insecurity since 2012, when al-Qaeda-linked groups took over parts of the north. Despite a French-led military operation that forced many of the insurgents to abandon their northern strongholds in 2013, the insurgents quickly regrouped and moved year after year towards the south of the country, where the capital of Mali is located. They also frequently attack the Malian army and its allies.

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