Statement on behalf of the A3
(Gabon, Ghana, and Kenya)
1. I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the A3 ─Gabon, Ghana, and Kenya─ and I would like to thank SRSG El-Ghassim Wane for his briefing on the situation in Mali.
2. That situation is complex in combining a transition to civilian, democratic government, the presence of transnational terrorist groups that are getting more deeply entrenched, regional dynamics and the escalation of great power rivalries.
3. The number one interest of the A3, representing the will of Africa, is in a peaceful and secure Mali whose government reflects the will of its people and that is in full control of its territory. We offer these remarks in the interest of achieving these aims.
4. We recognize the Malian peoples' urgent need for security and competent, democratic government. We further recognize that the growing threat of terrorism is destroying lives through violence and due to its negative impact on the economy.
5. The rapid escalation of military spending by the government to confront this threat, at a time when the economy has been under pressure from the very same reasons for the armament, has resulted in reversals of development and livelihood.
6. The insecurity in the country has been fed by a growing transnational criminality that offers further incentives to the terrorists and militants while eroding the state’s ability to maintain order.
7. To add to the grim picture, despite the escalation of military means, the fight against the terrorist groups to take back de facto control of territory has not broadly speaking been effective. This despite the taking of state power by the military and its maintenance in the Transition authorities.
8. The A3 commends MINUSMA for its technical assistance to the Transition Authorities towards the development of the National Security Policy, the integration of former combatants into the Malian Defense and Security Forces (MDSF), and the subsequent redeployment of reconstituted units to northern Mali. However, there are clear limits in the mission’s mandate and capabilities to deliver more effective security for Mali.
9. There are also clear limits to the capabilities of the G5 Sahel Force, which while promising in its design and ambition, lacks adequate and predictable financing, force multipliers and intelligence capabilities. In this regard, we note the urgent need to address the security gap following the closure of French bases in Kidal and Tessalit in Northern Mali and Timbuktu as part of the reconfiguration of its military presence in the Sahel.
10. Even as the security situation, which is the foremost concern of the Security Council, deteriorates, it is made even more fragile by the lack of progress in the transition.
11. We take note of the holding of National Refoundation Assizes of Mali, which gave some of the people of Mali the opportunity to express their views on the actions necessary for the refoundation of Mali and the strategic orientations of the Malian Transition.
12. The commitments that emerged and were agreed by the military authorities are key to the security and development aims we have articulated earlier. As the A3+1 previously observed, it will require competent and resourced military means, democratic legitimacy, the inclusive management of diversity, the combatting of transnational criminality, and local-level livelihood uplift to bring peace and security to the Sahel.
13. In light of these imperatives, we again urge the Transition authorities in Mali to heed their commitments and the values that bind them to the collective will of our African Union.
14. On how to improve the security situation, we want to make the following proposals to the Council, the region, and the broader International Community.
15. First, we urge for the welcoming of the 9th January Communique by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) emerging from an Extraordinary Session in Accra under the chairmanship of H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana.
16. We call for the Security Council to respect and embrace the determination of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS that the proposal by the authorities to extend the transition to five years is unacceptable, and that an expedited transition to constitutional rule in Mali should be undertaken without delay.
17. Inclusive, democratic and competent government are the foundations of a secure Mali that if established would reverse the insecurity that is of such concern to regional and international peace. We therefore call on the Council to extend its full support to this decision and the further measures to enforce it announced in the Communique.
18. We encourage the region to ensure that the sanctions are implemented with careful and supportive regard being given to the operational needs of MINUSMA, and the ongoing efforts against terrorism in Mali and the Sahel.
19. We also our support for the implementation of the Peace Agreement, in particular the DDR, decentralization, and development process, particularly in the north of the country. We invite the Malian transitional authorities to continue their efforts in this direction.
20. Secondly, the continuous deterioration of the security situation in Mali, marked by increasing attacks targeting civilians and peacekeepers in central, northern and southern Mali coupled with the increasing use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are of major concern.
21. The lack of effective state presence in parts of the country has emboldened these terrorist groups leading to a climate of fear, increased school closures, and the absence of basic services and humanitarian activities. There is need to keep foremost in our minds that the instability of the security situation in Mali has significant impacts not only on the rest of the continent but also beyond Africa's borders. We must tirelessly continue to work so that this country does not become a temple of jihadism and terrorism, and thus constitute a threat to our peace and our common security.
22. We, therefore, urgently call for a more adequate response to the growing insecurity. This must include commensurate logistical, material, and financial support to the joint force of the G-5 Sahel, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
23. We are deeply persuaded that only a UN support office can provide a more direct, predictable, reliable, and adequate financial support to the Joint Force. The A3 is convinced of the correctness of this approach, and we strongly encourage the Council to change the paradigm and to examine the question of financing in a more favorable light.
24. We propose the deployment of rapid intervention brigades capable of conducting combat operations against extremist groups, as has been done in the framework of other missions, such as MONUSCO.
25. We further welcome the request by ECOWAS to have a more robust and offensive mandate that would enhance the operational capacity of MINUSMA to deal with terrorism challenges in the region. While noting the Secretary-General's recommended enhancement of troop strength in MINUSMA, encourage him to enhance his engagement with the Malian authorities in this regard.
26. We are encouraged by the regional dynamic, marked by joint operations to fight terrorism as well as the signing of an Agreement between Mali and Chad allowing the deployment of 1,000 additional Chadian soldiers within MINUSMA.
27. We also welcome the decision by the Authority to activate immediately, in preparedness for any eventuality, the ECOWAS Standby Force on account of its decisions on the Malian situation.
28. We urge the Council to use the coming weeks to come to grips with the continent-wide growing challenge of terrorism. It is time members considered additional measures that are clear on the differences between the need to undertake national political stabilization, and the regional need to combat transnational terrorist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and ISIS.
29. Thirdly, the A3 welcomes the ongoing adaptation plan of MINUSMA and the S-G’s call for the scaling up of uniformed personnel to enhance the Mission’s ability to support national authorities in protecting civilians as recommended in his report (S/2021/657). We commend MINUSMA peacekeepers for their ability to robustly repel hostile attacks, particularly in Aguelhok where there were 26 attacks between July and December alone.
30. We welcome MINUSMA continued efforts to enhance its casualty evacuation procedures, including through a Headquarters review in July. We pay tribute to the MINUSMA soldiers, who work tirelessly to restore peace and stability in Mali, often in very trying security conditions.
31. While concerned about the safety of the peacekeepers, we take note the lack of sufficient and adequate air lift capability, in particular with regard to medium utility and armed helicopters, which continue to hamper the Mission’s performance.
32. The A3 therefore urge the Council to resource the Mission with the outstanding air assets. These enablers are critical for MINUSMA to continue implementing its mandate across its area of operation.
33. Fourth, the A3 expresses its concern at the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, resulting from the growing insecurity, given the hundreds of thousands of Malians in refugee camps in neighboring countries or in camps for internally displaced persons. The humanitarian situation could worsen due to inter-communal conflicts, climate-change induced food insecurity and destruction of civilian goods by terrorists.
34. The A3 takes note that the 9th January ECOWAS decision suspending commercial transactions of its member countries with Mali makes the exception of ‘essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19; petroleum products and electricity’.
35. These are the key items to sustain humanitarian aid provision. We urge ECOWAS countries to ensure that the implementation of all measures announced in the Communique is undertaken with maximum regard given to the livelihoods of the Malian people which are key to meeting basic daily needs.
36. We conclude by calling on the Transitional Authorities to cooperate with the international community to ensure a speedy transition that delivers transparent, credible, and inclusive elections and the reestablishment of constitutional order.
37. We further call on the Security Council to return to the drawing board to consider the mandates and resources that will meet the actual needs on the ground.
I thank you for your kind attention.