10 January 2014

Mali: Reform or Relapse

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Finally, the focus on the northern region should not overshadow the need to lay better foundations both for the state and for governance. As Crisis Group previously mentioned, the crisis in the north revealed serious dysfunctions that affect the country as a whole. Malian democracy, hailed as a regional example, collapsed suddenly. The country's new leadership and international partners agree that meaningful reforms are required to break with the past. Some believe that these reforms are too early, too soon for a state still reeling from the crisis. However, it is important not to miss the unique opportunity of implementing an ambitious reform on governance and economic development, supported by a well-coordinated international response. At the very least, bad habits of the past should not resurface.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To ensure security throughout the territory and better protect the populations

To the Malian government:

1. Ensure that the redeployment of the state in the north focuses on resumption and improvement of services (judicial, educational and health) and not only on restoration of the symbols of central authority.

2. Restore trust between state representatives and northern populations, particularly in Kidal, by:

a) investigating all potential abuses committed by armed forces against civilians and trying those individuals involved;

b) setting up the international investigation committee prescribed by Article 18 of the Ouagadougou agreement as soon as possible;

c) ensuring the professionalism and probity of the armed forces deployed in the north, in particular by using trained police forces, rather than the army, to maintain law and order; and

d) putting an end to the use of community-based armed groups to restore security in the north.

To armed groups in the north:

3. Respect strictly their confinement into barracks as stipulated by the Ouagadougou agreement, or otherwise accept co-responsibility for incidents happening in localities where they still operate.

4. Clarify and update their political demands.

To the Security Council and countries contributing troops:

5. Increase without delay MINUSMA's human and logistic resources, especially airborne capacity, until reaching full capacity.

To MINUSMA:

6. Fulfil its civilian protection mandate while remaining neutral to avoid being perceived as a state proxy, especially in the north.

7. Reinforce significantly its presence in the north, especially in towns where security incidents have been reported, and strengthen its patrol capacities, in conjunction with Malian forces, to secure main roads.

8. Secure the return of refugees, including in pastoral areas, through an increased presence outside of urban centres.

To the French authorities:

9. Maintain a rapid reaction contingent and intelligence gathering capacities on Malian soil to support the government and MINUSMA.

To the African Union, Sahel, West and North African states, the UN special envoy for the Sahel and special representative of the European Union for the Sahel:

10. Help revive regional cooperation for security and economic development, by supporting consultation and decision-making mechanisms to defuse tensions between the countries involved, such as the African Union-backed initiative that regularly gathers heads of intelligence services of the region.

To promote peace and reconciliation

To the Malian government:

11. Capitalise on the dialogue initiated since the Ouagadougou agreement by:

a) opening inclusive peace talks with representatives of northern communities, including the armed groups that signed the agreement;

b) opening, as soon as possible, discussions on disarmament and the future of combatants;

c) showing flexibility in organising negotiations so as to hold meetings outside Bamako, including in major northern cities; and

d) refraining from setting decentralisation as the only acceptable basis for negotiations, being open to other institutional arrangements, and implementing measures to facilitate dialogue.

12. Pursue and strengthen a sustainable national reconciliation policy by:

a) making sure the dialogue is held at the grassroots level rather than imposed by the state, and setting up regional and local forums as follow-up measures to the recent national conferences;

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