The 15 members of the United Nations Security Council unanimously renewed its peacekeeping mission in Mali for a year, but warned the West African country must make rapid progress toward peace.
The five-year-old mission “will not be in Mali forever” and the resolution “makes clear that we can accept no further delay” of peace, said Jonathan Cohen, U.S. Deputy Representative to the U.N. on Thursday, June 28.
“This renewal is not like the previous ones,” added Francois Delattre, French ambassador to the U.N.
It is accompanied by a “strong message” on the need for “substantial progress on the country’s peace process,” he said.
Failing that, the diplomat expressed the possibility of an exit strategy for the U.N. mission – known as Minusma – and “sanctions against those responsible for the blockages.”
The “encouraging” progress of recent weeks “must imperatively be amplified,” Delattre insisted.
Following a 2015 peace deal between the government and armed groups, a presidential election is scheduled for July this year which the U.N. hopes will be “inclusive, free, fair, transparent” and “credible,” according to the resolution drafted by France.
The text also highlighted the security council’s impatience over “persistent” delays in the full implementation of that peace agreement.
An investigation by the mission released on Tuesday found that Malian soldiers attached to the G5 Sahel force executed 12 civilians in a Boulikessi market, likely in retaliation for the death of one of their own.
The Minusma mission launched an investigation into this and other incidents following “recurrent allegations of extrajudicial summary executions, enforced disappearances, kidnappings and the destruction and burning of property, coupled with deadly intercommunal violence,” the release said.
Mali’s myriad forces
Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, exploiting a Taureg separatist uprising. France began a military intervention the next year that evolved into the current Operation Barkhane deployment with a mandate for counter-terror operations across the Sahel region.
In March, a U.N. report said Mali continues to be plagued by insecurity, fueled by human, drugs and arms trafficking.
The Security Council resolution calls for better-defined priorities for Minusma, additional airborne equipment, and suggests a possible long-term exit strategy for the United Nations.
The G5 Sahel, comprised of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, was launched in 2014 to improve cooperation on development and security in West Africa.
They launched the G5 Sahel joint counter-terrorism force in July 2017. Its mandate is to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime and human trafficking in the Sahel area, but it has deployed slowly and has had struggles with funding.
Minusma deployed to Mali in 2013, and has around 12,000 military and 1,900 police personnel deployed from more than 50 U.N. partner nations. It has lost more than 160 people since it deployed in 2013 – a figure that accounts for more than half of U.N. peacekeeping fatalities over this period.
With reporting from AFP