A special envoy of the UN secretary general, Ban ki-moon, dispatched to Banjul yesterday held talks with the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh at State House in Banjul. Said Djinnit, the UN special representative for West Africa, was at the presidency to deliver a special message from the UN boss to the Gambian leader.
Speaking to journalists shortly after meeting President Jammeh, the top UN official said his meeting with the Gambian leader also touched on the current situation in Mali among other issues relevant to ensuring peace and stability in the Sahel. This, according to him, is part of his regional consultation with West African leaders.
"We obviously discussed at length on the situation in Mali and Guinea Bissau and in the Sahel. We also touched on other issues of concern like challenges in drug trafficking and organised crime in West Africa. Just as usual, I benefitted from the knowledge and the expertise of President Jammeh on all these issues," he said, while expressing hope of another meeting with the president in January to continue their discussion on issues affecting peace and stability in the sub-region. "I found my discussion with the president very much enlightening and I intend to pursue this kind of discussion with him. I am very much grateful for his position," the UN envoy added.
UN's current stance on Mali
Said stressed that the UN is very worried about the current situation in Mali and the Sahel in general, saying that as far as West Africa is concerned, they have been involved with ECOWAS and the African Union and other partners of Mali in seeking solution to the crisis.
"It is complex. We have a combination of problems with challenges in that country. The unity of the country, the action by some rebel groups, the threats of terrorism not only to Mali but the whole region and the challenge posed by coups are challenges we face. So it is true that the Sahel went through very difficult time in terms of mental situation and droughts. So all that combined, made the situation very difficult and took us some time to come together as international community together with Mali," he said.
According to him, on th October, 2012, there was a very important meeting convened by the UN, AU and ECOWAS which brought together the international community on the one hand and Mali together and they were able to build the partnership with Mali and also forge a consensus within the international community on a road map for helping Mali.
He explained that the road map is composed of strengthening the transitional institutional arrangements in Bamako saying, "we all recognise that we will be supporting Mali and that for us to support Mali, it has to be in the forefront and playing the central role through its institutions and we want its institutions to get united and work together and the second pillar of that was election among others".