Guterres seeks new political focus for UN Mali mission

Soldiers hold the UN and Malian flags during a Peacekeepers' Day ceremony at the operating base of MINUSMA, the UN's mission in Mali, on May 28, 2018
AFP

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the world body’s mission in Mali to concentrate more on political goals, seeing serious shortcomings three years after a peace agreement.

The UN stabilization mission, known by its French acronym MINUSMA, along with international partners “should reprioritize its actions to focus on political tasks,” Guterres said in a report this week to the Security Council looking at renewing the force at the end of June.

“I intend to explore ways of broadening MINUSMA’s political role in support of the peace process,” he said, citing a strategic review conducted this year.

The government in Bamako and Tuareg-led rebels signed an agreement in 2015 which Guterres described as the “cornerstone” of the peace process in the Saharan country.

But the review found that the peace agreement “had not resulted in enough meaningful progress on the ground,” Guterres said.

He voiced alarm that the security and humanitarian situations have kept declining since the signing of the pact and pointed to concerns of food shortages. 

Guterres said that the 12,500-strong international force faced a dilemma “between the need to reform and reconstitute the Malian defense and security forces while simultaneously supporting existing forces in addressing the current instability.”

Mali has been in disarray since 2012 when guerrillas linked to Al-Qaeda seized much of the north, staying in control until France launched a military intervention in January 2013.

But vast parts of Mali remain outside the control of Malian, French and UN forces, who have faced frequent attacks.

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