A 2015 peace deal for Mali has led to a “progressive return of trust between parties”, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday evening.
The Malian authorities and two coalitions of armed groups in the north signed the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali in efforts to end conflict which had erupted three years prior.
President Keïta said it has led to major achievements, including a lack of clashes between the security forces and signatory movements.
“But also, there is a progressive return of trust between parties in Mali,” he continued. “Additionally, more than 500 former fighters have been re-integrated, and around 2000 ex-fighters have been registered in an operational coordination mechanism as part of the DDR (demobilization, disarmament and reintegration) process.”
President Keïta said the DDR process will lead to the re-establishment of State authority across the country.
The peace agreement also sets out political and institutional reforms.
Following two unsuccessful attempts, Mali is now preparing to hold a national dialogue which should bring about national reconciliation and the strengthening of democracy, according to the President.
The country also adopted laws this year to create a development zone in the north, with a $72 million fund to implement the strategy.
However, Mali is facing what the President described as “the worrying situation” in the centre of the country.
“Having managed to destabilize regions in the north of Mali, terrorists and other criminal groups expanded their reach…to the regions in the centre of the country. They exploited disputes between different armed groups which so far had been managed in a non-violent manner,” he said.
“The issue for the motivation of these terrorist groups has little to do with religion and even less to do with development. The issue for them is to ensure that they have the space to ensure their criminal activities can prosper, trafficking of weapons, human beings and illicit goods.”
Strengthening security on the ground, engaging youth, recovering weapons and disarming militia are among government measures aimed at restoring order in the affected areas.
President Keïta also used his speech to pay tribute to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and to foreign forces deployed in his country and elsewhere in the Sahel region.
He acknowledged that they are working in a “complex and difficult environment”.