UN peacekeeping chief urges Mali to carry forward political transition

UN Undersecretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on Tuesday asked Mali to carry forward the current political transition.

“Any sustainable improvement of the security situation in Mali is predicated, in no small part, on the success of the current political transition,” he told the Security Council in a briefing.

While the transition remains fragile, encouraging signs have been recorded over the past three months, he noted, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Seven months into the political transition scheduled to last 18 months, authorities of the transition have kick-started the functioning of the main institutions of the transition. In February, the government issued its agenda for the period ahead, and the transitional parliament swiftly voted to approve it during its first session, said Lacroix.

“It is crucial that the pace of these reforms be urgently accelerated while ensuring that the largest number of actors join the process. In the weeks and months ahead, the success of the transition will depend on the commitment of the Malian stakeholders to ensure that the transition and the key reform processes underpinning it remain inclusive, transparent, and credible.”

Among the government’s pressing priorities is the completion of a series of crucial political and institutional reforms. These include the territorial redistricting, the electoral reforms, and the reform of the Constitution, he said.

With regard to preparations for elections at the end of the transition period, discussions over the past few weeks between the authorities of the transition, political actors, and civil society groups have yet to result in an agreement over which reforms should be enacted, including on the important issue of the management of the polls. As a result, an official electoral calendar has not been issued, he said.

“At this critical juncture, we encourage Malian political actors to work in a spirit of compromise and enact reforms aimed at creating an environment conducive to peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible elections. These elections represent the litmus test for the current transition and a necessary step towards the return of Mali to constitutional rule,” said Lacroix.

Increasing participation, including among women and youth and boosting the credibility of the polls would be key in avoiding that this landmark of the democratic process once again becomes the trigger of further political instability in Mali, he added.

While the implementation of the Peace Agreement has remained slow, positive momentum and a new sense of trust among the Malian parties have emerged in recent weeks, and efforts to improve Malian’s ownership of the agreement have been undertaken, he said.

“We urge Malian parties to build on the momentum generated in recent weeks to accelerate the redeployment and effective use of the reconstituted units of the army in the North, the operationalisation of the Northern Development Zone and the establishment of the territorial police,” said Lacroix, noting that six months after representatives of the signatory movements joined a Malian government, a first in the years since the signing of the agreement, now is the time to translate the commitments made into concrete progress on the ground.

As Mali continues to face a host of political, security, human rights and humanitarian challenges, the support of the international community and of the Security Council remains of utmost importance to ensure that national stakeholders live up to their commitments, he said.