The United Nations Security Council landed in Mali today, the first stop of its visit to the African continent, underlining that the 15-member body is united in supporting the country's peace and reconciliation efforts.
"We are here--the whole Council is here with its entire weight, with one voice, and with the same wish to see Mali reconciled, Malians united to build peace and to continue building the great country you have," Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins, the Permanent Representative of Angola and Security Council President for the month of March, told reporters at a press conference in the capital, Bamako.
"It's the main message we're bringing with us," he added. "During this visit, we will meet with Malians, we will be close to them instead of just listening from afar and reading the reports. We will let them know directly that our main objective is to see the rebirth of Mali."
The Malian Government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012, including a military coup d'état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists. The country has also been wracked by a series of humanitarian crises.
Echoing the Angolan Ambassador's message was France's Permanent Representative François Delattre, who said the road travelled by the West African country during these past years has been "spectacular." Building on this progress, he explained that the Security Council is putting all its weight on three items in particular.
"First, it is important to give renewed impulse to the implementation of the peace accords. These mark a historic step, they mark the coming together of all Malian stakeholders and of the whole international community supporting the agreement," he underlined, referring to the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, signed by the Government, the Coordination of Movements of Azawad, and the Platform coalition of armed groups.
"The second objective is to put all the Security Council's weight on the fight against terrorism which counters the peace agreement," Mr. Delattre continued. "It is the reason why are honoring the Malian security forces which are at the forefront of this battle. We are also honoring the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) which works alongside the country's people and authorities."
Finally, he said the Security Council's third message is to promote reconciliation. "It's the key word I think," the Ambassador stressed. "To move forward with reconciliation between all Malians, no matter where they are, so they feel includes in this dynamic I have described."
"We are at your side. You have, dear Malian friends, the destiny of your country in your hands. We are at a key moment in the history of your country. We will support your efforts especially in the implementation of the peace agreement. You have a historic chance, so cease it," he concluded.