United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned the suicide-vehicle attack earlier today perpetrated against a military camp in the northern Mali city of Gao that reportedly left at least 50 people dead and dozens injured.
According to the UN Integrated Multi-Dimensional Stabilization Mission, shortly before 9:00 a.m., a sucide vehicle exploded inside the OMC (Operational Coordination Mechanism) camp in Gao. The camp is home to the elements of the Armed Forces of Mali, the Platform and Coordination of Azawad Movements (600 in total) which are tasked with leading the joint patrols envisaged by the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Guterres offered his heartfelt condolences to the Government of Mali and the bereaved families, the Coordination of Movements of Azawad and the Platform. He also wished a speedy recovery to the injured and called for swift action to bring those responsible for this attack to justice.
Mixed patrols are one key interim security measure of the peace agreement aiming at curtailing insecurity in northern Mali pending the full restoration of State authority. “The Secretary-General urges the parties to continue to work to fully implement the provisions of the peace agreement and to do all they can to prevent such attacks,” said the statement.
“This despicable act reinforces the United Nations' determination to support the people of Mali, the Government and the signatory armed groups in their quest for peace, their fight against terrorism and their efforts to uphold the peace agreement,” it concluded.
Meanwhile, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, at the opening of a regularly scheduled briefing to the UN Security Council, also condemned the bombing,which he denounced as a “direct attack” on the peace process and an attempt to undermine recent progress on security arrangements,
“We condemn with the utmost firmness this cowardly and ignoble attack […] which was clearly aimed at derailing the peace process by undermining trust between the signatory parties and the people, “as well as counteracting recent progress in implementing the security arrangements of the peace accord, he stated.
Yet he stressed: “This incident underlines once more that accelerating the implementation of the [agreement] remains the only avenue possible for achieving peace and reconciliation in Mali and I once again urge all signatory parties to fully engage in its implementation. We do not have much time left.”
Progress in implementation of the Peace Agreement
Continuing his briefing, Mr. Ladsous said that more than 18 months after the signing of the peace accord, “very little significant progress has been made,” despite some positive steps.
“The implementation of the interim institutional and security arrangements has stagnated and remains undermined by persistent disagreements and lack of trust between the signatory parties,” he added. “Fragmentation of armed groups, especially within the Coordination of Azawad Movements, and the repeated attempts by dissident groups to undermine the peace process, also hampered the implementation.”
With only five months remaining until the end of the interim period, he said that the absence of tangible results is of major concern “and leads me to wonder about the real will and commitment of the signatories of the peace process.”
As such, it is of paramount importance to restore the confidence of the Malian population in the peace process. He noted that MINUSMA continued to receive reports of serious violations of human rights “committed by armed groups and State actors.” Mr. Ladsous also stressed that the implementation of the development strategy for northern Mali, more than a year after the international conference for the economic recovery and development of Mali, had not yet begun.