25 April 2014

Mali: UN Urges Parties to Speed Up Talks

Photo: UN Photo/Marco Dormino
Young people in Gao, in northern Mali, where there is huge support for the country remaining a single nation.

The Security Council is concerned by the lack of progress in negotiations with militants in the north.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, called on the Malian government to begin talks with rebels in the north "without delay," noting that there has been no progress since June 18, 2013, Radio France Internationale, RFI, reported.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Mali, Bert Koenders, called for continued cooperation with regional organisations to support steady efforts towards peace and stability through inclusive talks. The UN News Centre cited him as warning that despite some progress, the security situation in the country's restive north remained "very fragile," with the recent increase in terrorist activities.

Rooting out extremism, Koenders said, depends on winning the hearts and minds of the local population through internationally-supported national efforts "to ensure the establishment of an effective and efficient administration to implement critical rule of law, human rights and recovery programmes that foster reconciliation and community cohesion."

Defending his government's position, Foreign Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, said negotiations were underway, with some progress made. He expressed hope that the process will be speeded up in the coming days. Meanwhile, Mali on Wednesday announced the appointment of former Prime Minister, Modibo Keïta, as the President's High Representative for All-inclusive Malian Dialogue.

Reacting to his new position, Keïta said the rebels were Malians with grievances that needed to be addressed. He said his objective was to seek a final peace deal with all groups by determining the future administrative and institutional set up of Mali, fashioning out an integrated development programme for local governments, improving governance and ensuring reconciliation and justice.

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