Ceasefire accord ‘significant’ step towards stability in Mali, says UN’s Sahel envoy
Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists when fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels. The conflict displaced hundreds of thousands of people and prompted the Government to request assistance from France to halt the southward march of the extremist groups.
The accord reached yesterday in neighbouring Burkina Faso between the Government and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad provides for an immediate ceasefire and paves the way for the presidential polls set for July.
“The ceasefire accord, which will facilitate the return of the Government troops and civilian administrators to the northern town of Kidal before the planned presidential election next month, constitutes a significant step towards peace and stability in Mali,” said a statement issued the Special Envoy, Romano Prodi.
He added that peaceful dialogue is the only way forward to ensure stability in Mali and in the Sahel region, which is facing important challenges.
Mr. Prodi is encouraged by the parties’ “positive spirit” to implement the ceasefire deal, the statement noted. “He calls on the signatories to respect the accord and maintain their commitment to peace which is needed for the people of Mali and for the region.”
The Security Council also welcomed the signing of the agreement, and called on all signatories to fully implement its provisions, with the support of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“The members of the Security Council call on those armed groups in northern Mali that are not signatories to the Agreement, and that have cut off all ties with terrorist organizations, to unconditionally commit to all the provisions contained therein,” the 15-member body said in a statement issued to the press.
The accord was welcomed yesterday by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative for Mali, Bert Koenders, both of whom were encouraged by the parties’ commitment to national reconciliation and the resolution of differences through dialogue.