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Situation in Mali - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/1117)

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I. Introduction

1. By its resolution 2584 (2021), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until 30 June 2022 and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the resolution. The present report covers major developments in Mali since the previous report (S/2021/844) dated 1 October 2021.

II. Major developments

2. During the reporting period, the transition authorities pursued efforts to implement their political agenda on the basis of the transitional Government’s action plan, notably electoral reforms and the establishment of a single election management body, as well as the holding of a wide-ranging national dialogue on reform (Assises nationales de la refondation) to lay the foundation for political and institutional reforms. These initiatives took place against the backdrop of divergent views between the transitional Government and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the timeline for the political transition, including the holding of legislative and presidential elections by February 2022 to mark the end of the transition period, as well as the deteriorating security situation. Limited progress was achieved in implementing the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, while efforts to develop a comprehensive politically-led strategy for central Mali continued.

A. Political transition, reforms and elections

3. During the reporting period, political stakeholders remained divided on the substantive aspects of the transition, notably the transitional Government’s reform agenda, electoral reforms and the holding of the national dialogue on reform. The national dialogue is conceived as a consultative process with key stakeholders from all segments of society to launch political and institutional reforms to address the root causes of recurrent crises in Mali. Several political parties, groupings and movements expressed their support for the transition authorities and confirmed their willingness to participate in the national dialogue. Conversely, the political coalition of parties regrouped under the Cadre d’échange des partis et regroupements de partis politiques pour une transition réussie au Mali, comprising allies of the former presidential majority, continued to publicly oppose core elements of the transition authorities’ agenda. Following their meeting with the President of the transitional Government on 19 November, the Cadre d’échange announced in a communiqué that, owing to the erosion of trust between the transitional Government and political parties, the grouping would not participate in the national dialogue. Furthermore, the Cadre d’échange reiterated its calls for adherence to the transition time frame and the organization of elections and expressed its willingness to support a successful transition, but indicated that it remained open to dialogue with the transition authorities.

4. In support of the transition authorities and the armed forces, peaceful demonstrations were held throughout October in several cities, including Bamako, Bougouni, Kayes, Mopti, Sévaré and Sikasso. Other national stakeholders, including civil society, also stated their positions: on 6 November, in a press conference, Synergie 22, a platform of 22 civil society organizations involved in election monitoring, expressed concerns over the entrenched political polarization on matters related to electoral reforms; and the imam Mahmoud Dicko, in a mass prayer gathering that he organized on 28 November, expressed concern about the trajectory of the transition as a contributing factor to the continued isolation of Mali and called for the convergence of all the nation’s active forces for a successful transition.

5. In accordance with its agenda, the transitional Government continued preparations for holding the national dialogue on reform. On 16 October, the Prime Minister of the transitional Government issued a decree appointing 30 members of the organizing committee of the national dialogue, including 10 women (33.3 per cent). In another decree signed the same day, 18 public figures were appointed to the high-level panel of the national dialogue, including 7 women (38.9 per cent). Both structures are in compliance with the gender parity law and the designated officials are respected across the political spectrum. On 20 October, the Council of Ministers approved the draft terms of reference and timetable of the national dialogue. The highlevel panel was formally launched by the President of the transitional Government on 26 October and was tasked with: (a) conducting consultations with political and social stakeholders to ensure wide participation and foster consensus; (b) implementing the calendar of the national dialogue; (c) developing and implementing a communication plan and monitoring its implementation; and (d) drafting the final report on the national dialogue for submission to the President of the transitional Government. On 28 October, the Prime Minister of the transitional Government inaugurated the organizing committee for the national dialogue.

6. In view of the continued political polarization, the transition authorities, notably the Prime Minister and the Minister of State Reform, initiated consultations with key stakeholders to galvanize support for the Government’s agenda, notably the national dialogue on reform. The President of the transitional Government also held a series of consultations with political parties and groupings, trade unions and traditional, customary and religious authorities between 12 and 22 November. On 23 November, the President of the National Transition Council received a delegation from the High Islamic Council of Mali.

7. The national dialogue on reform was scheduled to commence at the cercle and commune levels on 22 November and at the national level on 21 December. However, on 22 November, the high-level panel issued a communiqué announcing that, owing to ongoing consultations, the dialogue would be postponed until further notice. In a communiqué issued on 3 December, the panel announced a new timeline for the national dialogue, beginning on 11 December at the cercle level, on 15 December at the commune level and between 27 and 30 December at the national level.

8. While uncertainty remains regarding the electoral timetable, some steps were taken to organize elections. On 24 November, the Council of Ministers adopted a draft electoral law that provides for: (a) the establishment of a single electoral management body; (b) a revised electoral map for legislative elections; (c) the reform of the voting system, including the introduction of electronic voting and, for parliamentary elections, a system of proportional representation; (d) the capping and control of campaignrelated expenses; and (e) the obligation to release individual polling station results and the electronic transmission of vote counts. MINUSMA provided logistical support for the annual revision of the voter register, which began on 1 October and will run until 31 December, including the deployment of materials to the northern regions.

9. Reacting to the adoption of the draft law, the Cadre d’échange, in a communiqué issued on 25 November, called on the transitional authorities to: (a) work towards consensus, inclusivity and neutrality of the Government; (b) respect ECOWAS normative frameworks precluding the modification of electoral laws six months before scheduled elections, except with the consent of a majority of political actors; and (c) comply with the outcome of the workshop organized by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization concluded on 30 June, in which it was recommended that the existing electoral architecture should be retained, with some improvements. On their part, the Mission d’observation électorale au Mali and the Coalition pour l’observation citoyenne des élections au Mali welcomed the new draft electoral law, while suggesting areas of improvement.

10. A series of investigations and legal proceedings against some Malians was initiated. On 26 October, the fourth Vice-President of the National Transition Council was arrested for allegedly posting subversive remarks on social media. Several political parties issued communiqués denouncing the arrest. On 4 November, the Council adopted a resolution calling for his parliamentary immunity to be respected and for the case to be dismissed by the tribunal. However, a presidential decree issued on 9 November removed him as a Council member and nullified his parliamentary immunity. He was released from detention but is currently awaiting trial. On 5 November, the prosecutor for commune VI in Bamako district announced the initiation of judicial investigations against six individuals: five former State security and police officials and the former Secretary-General of the Presidency under the former President of the transitional Government, Bah N’Daw. The charges against them include allegations of criminal conspiracy and plotting against the Government. It is worth recalling that the former Prime Minister, Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, and the former Secretary-General of the Presidency, Kalilou Doumbia, remain in detention over accusations of corruption related to the purchase of a presidential plane and military equipment under the regime of the former President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.