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Final report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) on Mali and extended pursuant to resolution 2432 (2018) (S/2019/636)

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Letter dated 6 August 2019 from the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) on Mali addressed to the President of the Security Council

The members of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) on Mali and extended pursuant to resolution 2432 (2018) have the honour to transmit herewith, in accordance with paragraph 4 of resolution 2432 (2018), the final report on the Panel’s work.

The report was submitted to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) concerning Mali on 15 July 2019 and was considered by the Committee on 26 July 2019.

The Panel should be grateful if the report would be brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.

(Signed) Ruben de Koning
Coordinator
Panel of Experts on Mali established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017)

(Signed) Albert Barume
Expert

(Signed) Aurélien Llorca
Expert

(Signed) Carolina Reyes
Expert

Final report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) on Mali and extended pursuant to resolution 2432 (2018)

Summary

Contrary to the commitments they made after the re-election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2018, the signatory parties have not accelerated the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. Apart from the signing of two pieces of enabling legislation and a start in integrating former combatants into the army that had been delayed six months, fundamental institutional reforms were interrupted following the resignation of the Prime Minister and his Government on 18 April 2019. General disarmament, demobilization and reintegration has not been started for 63,000 registered combatants.

Escalating violence in the centre of the country and mass protests in Bamako led to the resignation of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, who was widely considered to have given new impetus to the Agreement. The new Government decided on an inclusive political dialogue to arrive at consensual solutions on how to overcome the institutional and security crises, but failed to appoint ministers from the signatory armed groups. Considering widespread popular resentment against the Agreement, it remains to be seen whether the dialogue will garner the necessary political support.

Losing terrain to terrorist armed groups, key leaders of the Plateforme des mouvements du 14 juin 2014 d’Alger and the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) armed groups, as well as the dissident Mouvement pour le salut de l’Azawad of the Daoussak (MSA-D), attempted in late 2018 to create a coordination mechanism to address security challenges, in parallel to the Agreement and while awaiting the reconstituted army and its redeployment to the north. However, being undermined by inter- and intra-group rivalries and the collusion of certain elements with the terrorists, the initiative was short-lived. Colluding strategies between Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM, listed under QDe.159) and elements of the Haut Conseil pour l’unité de l’Azawad (HCUA), which is part of CMA, were particularly visible during the conflict with MSA-D in Ménaka in 2018 and in Talataye during the first half of 2019.

Rivalry within the Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad (MAA)-Plateforme complicated the implementation of the Agreement and contributed to the failure of the coordination initiative. Seeking to establish hegemony to advance personal interests and those of their Lehmar Arab community in Gao, MAA-Plateforme leaders Mohamed Ould Mataly (MLi.008) and Hanoune Ould Ali removed their counterpart from Timbuktu, Moulaye Ahmed Ould Moulaye, from the Agreement Monitoring Committee. Meanwhile, their ally, Plateforme spokesperson, Harouna Toureh, overruled Ould Moulaye’s list of combatants for the mixed units of the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Timbuktu, most of whom are supposed to be integrated into the Malian armed forces.

The personal interests of the Lehmar Arab leaders centre around the narcotics trade, much of which is conducted by Mohamed Ben Ahmed Mahri (MLi.007), alias Mohamed Rouggy. The latter is implicated in multimillion-dollar trafficking of cannabis resin and cocaine that pass or are intended to pass through Mali, which has led to successive seizures in the Niger, Morocco and Guinea-Bissau. Members of both the Plateforme and CMA (or claiming to be) are involved in transporting the same shipments at different stages of the trafficking route through Mali. Armed group interests in organized crime provide an additional motivation to disrupt or slow down the implementation of the Agreement, particularly security sector reforms needed before redeploying the reconstituted Malian armed forces in the north.

The humanitarian situation is most dire in the centre of the country, with an unprecedented number of civilian killings during attacks in the first half of 2019, generating displacement and refugee streams to Burkina Faso, the Niger and even Mauritania. In Kidal, an administrative Bureau established by CMA compromised humanitarian neutrality and access by imposing illegitimate regulatory constraints on humanitarian actors under the threat of violence and expulsion. The head of the humanitarian commission of the Bureau, Ahmed Ag Albachar (MLi.004), has also usurped humanitarian assistance.

In the wider Sahel region, violent attacks by jihadist and affiliated criminal groups continued to escalate, pitting communities against one another. In addition to Mali, Burkina Faso and the Niger are the most affected. Countries in the region are increasingly concerned about new terrorist connections across Africa and the new focus of global jihadist organizations on the destabilization of West Africa and the Sahel region. Uncontrolled movements of people seeking migration or employment, including in booming artisanal mining, may facilitate such connections.