Briefing on the Situation in Mali

Mali and Sahel

Date | 02 September, 2021

Tomorrow (02 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1027th session to receive updates on the situation in Mali and consider the report of PSC’s evaluation mission to Mali which was undertaken from 14 to 17 July, in line with Council’s decision under Paragraph 11 of its 1001st Communiqué.

The session is expected to have an open and closed segment. During the open segment, the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan, will be delivering opening remarks to be followed by a statement from the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. Maman Sidikou, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Mali and Head of the AU Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL) is also expected to make a presentation during the open segment of the session, which is to be followed by statements from the Representative of Republic of Ghana, Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and the Representative of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU. At the closed segment of the session, Victor Adeleke, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the AU will present the evaluation report to Council members, as the PSC Chairperson during the month of July, when the evaluation mission to Mali was conducted.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to deliberate on the findings of PSC’s evaluation mission report which may capture some of the key developments that have been unfolding in the country’s socio-political, security, economic and human rights and humanitarian situation since Council’s last deliberation at its 1001st session, which saw the country suspended from all AU activities following the coup of 24 May 2021. While ECOWAS’s suspension clearly defines a timeline (until after the February 2022 elections and the formation of a democratically elected government), the PSC has set some preconditions that need to be met before it can lift its suspension.

One of Council’s demands stressed at its previous session was the immediate appointment of a civilian Prime Minister to lead the conclusion of the 18 months transition period. The appointment of Choguel Kokala Maiga, chairman of the strategic committee of the June 5 Movement, Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP) has hence been a welcome step in the right direction. The release of the former interim President and Prime Minister of the transitional government who were kept under house arrest following their ouster also meets another one of Council’s demands. The pledge made by the current authorities to forge ahead with the elections planned for February 2022 and to remain committed to the full implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali are also expected to receive the attention of the PSC. There has been no indication the Council’s call to refrain from taking part as candidates for the upcoming presidential election will be heeded.

Another development that would be of interest to PSC members during tomorrow’s session is the adoption of the Government Action Plan 2021-2022 (PAG). As highlighted in PSC’s evaluation mission report, the PAG is based on four main pillars which are: strengthening national security; ensuring political and institutional reforms; organisation of general elections and promotion of good governance and the adoption of a social stability pact. While the adoption of this key document is encouraging on its own and demonstrates the commitment of the new transitional authorities to conduct the elections, there is still no concreate agreement on an independent election management body which may result in delaying the planned elections.

The issues contained in the Communiqué summarising the outcomes of the visit by ECOWAS mediator for Mali, Goodluck Johnathan, conducted from 9 to 12 May, would also be of interest to PSC members. In this respect, the areas of progress noted in the communiqué include: the initiation of judicial processes relating to those arrested over alleged attempts of destabilising the country and their eventual acquittal; the gradual return of State authority to parts of the country where terrorist groups are active; and the disarmament (albeit slow) and conversion of some armed self-defence groups. On the other hand, lack of consensus on the choice of the election management bodies; lack of inclusivity and clarity in the conduct of the transition and lack of progress with respect to human rights and rule of law were the major concerns underscored. PSC’s evaluation mission has also highlighted similar concerns, particularly with regards to the implementation of major reforms which are lagging and yet to commence despite the approaching deadline of the transition period. One major example highlighted in this regard is the pending measures towards updating the electoral and referendum timetable of 31 October 2021.

With respect to the security situation, there is reasonable fear that the recurrence of coups in the country could embolden insurgent groups by demonstrating weakness in the State’s cohesion and its security apparatus. The jihadist attack which took place in June 2021 claiming the lives of 160 people and another one staged in August which killed 17 Malian soldiers and was claimed by the al-Qaeda-affiliated ‘Support Group for Islam and Muslims’ are illustrative of such tendency of such groups. Given Mali’s strategic importance in the fight against terrorism in the overall Sahel region, the uncertainty resulting from the country’s political instability also puts at risk the regional response to terrorism and violent extremism and could further destabilise the wider Sahel region. Moreover, despite gains made in disarmament of some armed self-defence groups, the country’s security situation still continues to be marked by the presence of non-State armed groups along its border areas. Inter-communal violence and attacks on national and international militaries and humanitarian actors as well as kidnapping, looting and killings of villagers also continue to characterise the security landscape in Mali. Added to these circumstances are gaps that may result from France’s decision to scale down its military presence and the announcement by Chad of its decision to withdraw half of its troops from the G5-Sahel Joint Force deployed in the three-border region along central Mali. The area which is known to be hit hardest by terrorists could hence experience further deterioration due to the reduction in troops. There is a possibility for filling in these gaps through the deployment by the AU of 3000 troops to the Sahel region in line with Assembly/AU/Dec.792(XXXIII), although progress to achieve this remains limited. Another option that could be considered is the deployment of the Battalions of Reconstituted Armed Forces (BATFAR). Although the redeployment of reconstituted Malian armed and security forces is envisaged in the Algiers Accord, the operationalisation of the process remains incomplete and slow.

Mali’s humanitarian situation also continues to deteriorate. As UN reports demonstrate, the country’s already fragile and complex humanitarian context has worsened as a result of the political volatility from the recent coup. An increase in attacks against civilians, particularly in the central and northern regions of the country, has led to unprecedented increase in displacement rates. As of the end of May 2021, the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country has reached 372,266, out of which, 63% are children. In addition to the increase in displacement rates, various human rights violations have also been recorded including attacks against civilians by security forces, gender-based violence and recruitment of children by armed groups. Added to these, the socio-economic situation in the country is also suffering due the negative impact of the recent coup on Mali’s international relations and the level of insecurity and instability.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. Council may reflect, based on the report of its evaluation mission, on the status of implementation of the conditions it laid down at its 1001st session and highlight the areas where the AU could extend support to Mali’s transition. It may commend the current Malian authorities for taking some encouraging steps to maintain the gains achieved in the country’s political transition and urge them to ensure that the planned elections will be conducted at the end of the transition period, without any delays and preconditions. Council may also once again urge Mali’s transitional authorities to refrain from taking part in the upcoming elections and to work towards ensuring non-interference of the military in political issues. Welcoming the adoption of the PAG 2021-2022, Council may also call on the transitional government to publish a feasible timeline for the actualisation of key activities outlined therein. It may encourage Malian parties to work towards finalising the major outstanding reforms that need to be completed before the end of the transitional period including most particularly reaching consensus on the electoral management body, and welcome the planned visit of ECOWAS mediator on 05-07 September 2021 to engage Malian actors. The PSC may urge all actors in Mali to observe respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and request the AU Commission, working with ECOWAS, to support Mali in implementing a robust framework for compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law. Having regard to the humanitarian needs and security threats in the country and the wider region, Council may also appeal to the international community to strengthen its assistance.


Consideration of the renewal of the mandate of G5 Sahel Joint Force

Mali and Sahel

Date | 6 July, 2021

Tomorrow (06 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene the first session of the month, which will be the 1006th session, to consider the renewal of G5 Sahel Joint Force mandate. The PSC will do so on the basis of the Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission.

Following the opening remarks of the Chairperson of the PSC for July, Victor Adekunle Adeleke, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, is expected to introduce the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission. AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, Maman Sidikou, and the representatives of the G5 Sahel Secretariat and member states of the regional mechanism are expected to make statements.

It is to be recalled that the Council, at its 939th meeting held in July last year, renewed the mandate of the G5 Sahel Joint Force for a period of one year until 12 July 2021.

The security situation in the Sahel continues to worsen with spate of terrorist violence in the region, especially in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali. Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and the AL Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat Al Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM) remain major source of violence though they are not the only actors (vigilant self- defense groups are on the rise stirring intercommunal conflicts). Notwithstanding some gains made in the counter-terrorism operations in the region, the threat posed by the armed terrorist groups seems to be extending beyond the Sahel into the West African coast.

In sign of increasing insecurity, Niger, particularly its Western region of Tillabéri, experienced one of the deadliest attacks in March in which at least 140 people were reportedly killed. In Burkina Faso, the 5 June deadliest attack on the village of Solhan— informal gold mining site close to the border with Niger—left more than 160 people dead. This deadly attack reportedly brought the death toll in that country to about 500 since January. Terrorist groups in Mali also continued targeting both civilians and Malian armies as well as UN forces. In the latest attack, six Malian soldiers were killed while 13 UN peacekeeping forces were injured in separate assault staged in central and northern part of the country.

The latest spike of violence—coupled with rising food insecurity, climate change, and COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic shock—has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in the Sahel. According to the June report of UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 14.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance: Mali (7.1 million), Niger (3.8 million), and Burkina Faso (3.5 million). This has prompted UN agencies to raise the alarm over rising food insecurity, more so in the case of Burkina Faso.

It is also worth noting the impact of the pressing security and humanitarian situation in destabilizing governments of the region. For example, in Burkina Faso where the government has been forced to reshuffle the cabinet as discontent brewing over government’s perceived failure to contain the string of civilian attacks. It is to be recalled that Mali, Niger and Chad experienced coup or attempted coup between March and May illustrating the fragility.

A positive development in relation to the operationalization of the Joint Force is the deployment of 1,200 Chadian forces in the tri-border area in early March pursuant to the G5 Sahel Summit held in N’Djamena in February 2021. This brings the total number of the joint Force troops to 5,534.

The other issue the Council is likely to discuss is the operational and logistical challenges facing the G5 Sahel Joint Force. Though the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the European Union (EU) continue to provide logistical and financial support to the Force, the supports have not been adequate nor predictable. In the latest report on the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (FC-G5S), dated 10 May, the UN Secretary-General stated that ‘while the Force is becoming increasingly operational, it still lacks the necessary financial and logistical means to become autonomous’. It is in this context that the idea of establishing a dedicated UN Office to support the Joint Force gets traction with the view to ensuring predictable and sustainable support to the Force.

The creation of UN Office—similar to the UN Support Office to AU Mission in Somalia—was suggested by the UN Secretary-General June 2020 report on Mali. The G5 Sahel and the AU support and advocate for the UN to make such support package. It is worth recalling that the PSC, during its 939th session, called for the UN Security Council to ‘take necessary steps that will guarantee sustainable and predictable funding for the G5 Sahel Force from the UN assessed contribution’. However, dynamics in the UN Security Council suggest that members are divided on whether the idea of a dedicated and separate UN Office to support the G5 Joint Force should be pursued. Some members (particularly the three African members in the UN Security Council (A3) as well as France) are in support of the establishment of the Office while other members (notably US and UK) clearly object to the use of UN funds to establish the Support Office, preferring bilateral support as the right approach.

A positive development on the UN part is Security Council’s unanimous decision (through the adoption of resolution 2584) to renew MINUSMA’s mandate until 30 June 2022. While the mission maintains its current strength, the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to provide recommendations on the force levels and ceilings of the mission by mid- July, indicating the possibility of increasing the mission’s troop ceiling. A strengthened MINUSMA in a context where the situation in Mali and the wider Sahel is deteriorating would indeed be a positive step in turning the tide against terrorist groups in the region.

In tomorrow’s session, the PSC is also likely to discuss the status of 3,000 troops that the AU Assembly requested for the deployment to the Sahel. Despite some progress in developing the technical documents for deployment of the troops, critical issues of force generation, the command-and-control architecture, and the funding for the additional deployment have as yet to be clarified.

The other issue the Council may find worth reflecting on is the need to complement the military response with comprehensive approach that addresses the structural causes of instability notably underdevelopment, governance and climate change. A welcome development in this respect is the announcement of what is dubbed as ‘civil surge’ by the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel during the N’Djamena Summit last February. The expansion of state administrations and services to the populations, consolidation of rule of law and inclusive governance, and the fight against corruption and impunity are at the heart of the ideal of ‘civil surge’.

The expected outcome is a communique. While commending the efforts of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and its Member States in degrading capability of armed terrorist and other armed groups in Sahel, the PSC may reiterate its grave concern over the deterioration of security and humanitarian situation in the region. The Council is likely to note the progress made in the operationalization of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, particularly the deployment of the Chadian battalion of 1,200 forces as reinforcement to the Joint Force.

On the challenges facing the joint Force, the Council is likely to note the operational, logistical and financial limitations of the Force having detrimental effect to the effectiveness of the force in the fight against terrorism. Commending the efforts of the UN (through MINUSMA) and the EU for providing logistical and financial support, the Council may further call on these partners to continue their support. The Council may particularly reiterate the imperative of providing predictable and adequate resource for G5 Sahel Joint Force and welcome the proposal made by the Secretary-General for the creation of a dedicated UN Support Office. The Council is expected to welcome UN Security Council resolution 2584 of 29 June 2021, extending the mandate of MINUSMA for one year period until 30 June 2022.

The Council is also expected to stress on the need to follow a holistic approach and the need for enhancing non-military efforts that aimed at addressing root causes of the conflict in the region. In this connection, the Council may welcome the initiative of the ‘civil surge’ by Heads of State of the G5 Sahel during the N’Djamena Summit, and further call on partners to rally behind this initiative in addition to the military support. Finally, as growing security threats of the armed terrorist groups highlight the continued military engagement in the Sahel, the PSC is expected to renew the mandate of the G5 Sahel Joint Force for additional one year period.


Ministerial session on the situation in Mali

Mali and Sahel

Date | 24 May, 2021

Tomorrow (24 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 999th session at the Ministerial level to consider the situation in Mali.

Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Sabri BouKadoum, chairperson of the ministerial PSC session, is scheduled to make the opening remark. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, Zeyni Moulaye, representing Mali as the country concerned, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, as Chair of ECOWAS, will deliver statements. Others scheduled to address the PSC include Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, the new Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission (SRCC) for Mali and Head of the AU Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL), Maman Sidikou and the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Mali and Head of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), El Ghassim Wane.

The last time the PSC considered the situation in Mali was during its 954th session convened on 9 October 2020, following the issuance of a Transitional Charter and the establishment of a transitional governmentinvolving civilian leadership in October last year, as prescribed by ECOWAS and the PSC. The Prime Minister announced his 25-member cabinet in October. High-ranking military officials including those who took part in the August coup, members of the Movement of June 5-Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP) who led the protest against Keita’s regime, representatives of civil society, as well as four representatives of the signatory movements to the 2015 peace agreement formed the interim government. Against the background of these developments, during that session the PSC lifted the suspension of Mali from participation in AU activities.

For purposes of tomorrow’s session, it would be of interest for PSC members to follow up on the Council’s call for the interim government to expedite the implementation of the outstanding provisions of the Transitional Charter including the establishment of the National Transitional Council and to work towards the conclusion of the transitional process for holding national elections at the end of the 18-month transitional period. The PSC also recognized the importance of the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement in order to comprehensively address political, security and socio-economic challenges facing the Republic of Mali. In this context, tomorrow’s session presents the Council with the opportunity to receive updates on the progress made in respect of all these various areas.

Those providing update to the PSC, including the representative of Mali, are expected to highlight a number of developments. The first of this is the establishment of the Transitional National Council (TNC), as requested in the communique of the 954th session of the PSC. Established on the basis of a decree that the interim President, Bah N’Daw, issued last November, the 121 seats of the TNC were allocated to Defense and Security Forces, representatives of M5-RFP, signatory movements of the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, political parties and other groups. Major political actors including the M5-RFP strongly criticized the arrangement over the perceived unfair representation of the military in the Council who were able to secure 22 seats. The inaugural session of the transitional council elected one of the leaders of the Coup, Malick Diaw, as the President of the Council with overwhelming majority early in December. Second, in February, the Transitional Council considered and approved the action plan of the interim government, setting out six priority areas and 275 specific actions. Of particular interest for the PSC is ensuring the implementation of the action plan within the transitional period focusing on the major milestones for convening national elections.

Despite these positive developments, the recent resignation of interim Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on 14 May and his immediate reinstatement to pave the way for ‘new broad-based’ government illustrates not only the fragility of the transition but also thesimmering tension between the military and civilian elements of the transitional government, due to the dominant role taken by the military leadership in the transition. The report of the ECOWAS mediator and special envoy to Mali, former President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan, also flagged the concerns of stakeholders stating that ‘the mission encourages the government to ensure greater inclusivity of the main socio-political actors…’ This was further echoed by the authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS during its fifty-eighth ordinary session held on 23 January 2021, which underscored the ‘need for the timely implementation of the various decisions relating to the Transition, in a more consultative and inclusive approach with all stakeholders’.

With respect to the preparations for national elections, on 15 April 2021, the Minister of Territorial Administration announced an electoral calendar. Accordingly, a constitutional referendum is slated for October 2021. The parliamentary election and the first round of presidential voting will take place on 27 February 2022, with the runoff presidential election envisaged to take place in March 2022. Local and regional elections are also set to take place in December this year. As UN Secretary- General noted in his last quarterly report, the government is taking positive steps in engaging political parties, civil society organizations and signatories of the 2015 peace agreement to map out agreeable legal and institutional framework for the upcoming elections.

On the implementation of the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement resulting from the Algiers process, one notable development was the holding of the fifth ministerial session of the Agreement Monitoring Committee on 11 February in Kidal, for the first time since 2015. Six Malian ministers and the leadership of the signatory armed groups and international mediators took part in that session, with Algeria’s Foreign Minister, the Chairperson of tomorrow’s PSC session, as Chair of the Monitoring Committee. Apart from allocation of seats for signatory armed groups in the transitional institutions, progress is also being made with respect to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, which forms key part of the peace agreement. A worrying development worth highlighting is the killing of the President of one of the signatory armed groups (Coordination of Azawad Movements), Ould Sidati, in Bamako last month.

Despite the positive political atmosphere from the transitional process and the 2015 agreement, the security situation remains dire. A terrorist attacks in Kidal on 2 April 2020 led to the death of 10 peacekeepers and one UN contractor. In a deadliest attack since August 2020 on a security post in the norther region of Gao in March 2020, 33 Malian soldiers were killed and 14 were injured.

On the humanitarian and socioeconomic front, the situation remains dire causing frustrations on thepart of the population. A nationwide strike was called by the prominent National Workers’ Union of Mali (UNTM), starting on 17 May to demand a better living and working conditions to their members. It is to be recalled that the PSC, during its last session on Mali, requested the Chairperson of the Commission, through the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Centre, to ‘engage the Transitional Government of Mali with the view to identifying priority areas that should contribute towards the restoration of national socio-economic development to more effectively prevent relapse to conflict’. In this respect, the Council is likely to follow up on this decision during tomorrow’s session.

In tomorrow’s session, the PSC may also follow up on the tools it agreed to put in place with the view to support the transition in Mali. One of such mechanisms is the ‘follow-up and support committee’, which the PSC requested the Chairperson of the Commission to ‘urgently activate’ at its 954th session to ensure the appropriate participation and contribution of AU to the transitional government. Accordingly, the inaugural meeting of the committee- co-chaired by the AU, ECOWAS, and the UN- was held on 30 November 2020 in Bamako, followed by its second meeting convened on 8 March 2021 in Lome, Togo.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC is expected to welcome the progress made in the implementation of the Transitional Charter since its last session on Mali held on 9October 2020. The Council is however expected to share the concerns of different stakeholders in the lack of proper consultation and inclusivity in the transition process, and in this respect, it may echo the fifty-eighth ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in stressing ‘the need for the timely implementation of the various decisions relating to the Transition, in a more consultative and inclusive approach with stakeholders’. On the election, the Council is expected to welcome the announcement of the electoral calendar by the Government and urge Malian authorities to work on the outstanding legal and institutional frameworks in consultation with all stakeholders and create a conducive environment that would enable the conduct of the constitutional referendum and a free, fair and credible elections. In this regard, the Council may request the Chairperson of the Commission to initiate electoral support to Malian authorities. The Council may welcome the adoption of the Interim Government’s action plan by the National Council that outlined six priority areas, and may, in this respect, request the Chairperson of the Commission to continue its engagement with Malian authorities with the view to support them in translating this action plan into a reality.

In relation to the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, the PSC is likely to welcome the progress registered and call on the parties to expedite the redeployment of reconstituted forces to the regions that continue to experience armed violence. In relation to the security situation, the Council is expected to condemn the continued terrorist attacks and intercommunal violence pervasive in central and northern part of the country, including the attacks on MINUSMA. On the socioeconomic condition, the Council is also likely to express its concern over the continued disagreement between Malian authorities and labor unions in light of the recent nation-wide strike called by UNTM. In this respect, it may call on all parties to resolve their differences through dialogue to avoid a further damage to the struggling economy. In relation to the ‘follow-up and support committee’, the Council is expected to welcome theactivation of the Committee and the meetings it held, and the plan for the convening of its third meeting next month in Bamako. The Council is also expected to pay tribute to the late former President of Burundi, Paul Buyoya for his service and to welcome the appointment of Sidikou as SRCC and Head MISAHL.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Briefing on the situation in Mali

Mali and Sahel

Date | 9 October, 2020

Tomorrow (9 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold a briefing session on the situation in Mali. The meeting is expected to take place through VTC.
The AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, is expected to brief the PSC. Additionally, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, is also set to address the Council. It is also anticipated that the PSC will hear from Ghana, the current Chairperson of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The session is convened in the context of the recent developments in Mali that culminated in the establishment of a transitional government and the decision of ECOWAS to lift the sanctions it imposed following the unconstitutional changes of government in Mali on 18 August. It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 941st session of 19 August adopted a decision suspending Mali.

It is to be recalled that ECOWAS, which assumed leadership on the effort to restore constitutional order in Mali, considered the situation in Mali at a summit level meeting on 7 September and decided that the Malian forces has to appoint a transitional civilian president and prime Minister.

Subsequently, at a meeting that ECOWAS convened on 15 September with the the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), the formation of the military junta that seized power through the 18 August coup, ECOWAS reaffirmed the position on the need for civilians to be appointed to the position of President and Prime Minister of the transitional government and the limitation of the transitional period for 18 months as well as the dissolution of the CNSP upon the formation of the transitional government.

In the communique of its 946th session of 17 September in which it endorsed the ECOWAS decision, the PSC also categorically rejected ‘any attempt by the military to lead or influence the Malian Transition’, reiterated the ‘call for the immediate formation of a civilian-led transitional government’ and expressed ‘full support to the ECOWAS decision that both, the President and the Prime Minister of the Transition should be civilians’.

In the light of the foregoing, for purposes of tomorrow’s meeting the central issue is the lifting of the suspension of Mali. In this regard, one key technical issue that is sure to attract attention during the session is whether the formation of the transitional government complied with the requirements for civilian leadership and the PSC’s rejection of the influence of the military in the Malian transition.

After both the PSC and ECOWAS insisted on the requirement for civilian leadership for the position of President and Prime Minister, the selection committee that the CNSP established announced on 21 September the appointment of Bah N’daw, who is a former colonel and served as minister of defense in 2014, as transitional president. It also named CNSP head Colonel Assimi Goïta as transitional vice-president. On Friday 25 September,Ndaw and Goïta were sworn in as interim president and vice-president respectively for the transitional period that is set for a maximum of 18 months starting from 15 September.

ECOWAS’s Special Envoy, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, after meeting with Ndaw, has also stated of the possibilities for ECOWAS’s sanctions to be lifted with appointment of a civilian prime minister. On Sunday 27 September the transitional government appointed former minister of foreign affairs, Moctar Ouane, as Mali’s prime minister.

The Transition Charter published of 1 October in the Official Gazette has sought to meet the conditions put forward by ECOWAS towards the restoration of the constitutional order in Mali. The provision that allows the vice-president of the transition to replace the president has been removed with his responsibilities limited to security and defense. It also excluded the possibility of the transitional vice president replacing the transitional president. The 18-month cutoff timeline setting the duration of the transition has also been affirmed in the Charter. Taking these developments into account on 5 October ECOWAS decided to lift the sanctions imposed on Mali.

Indeed, despite his previous role, the president of the transitional government has since his retirement been a civilian with no notable influence on the military in Mali. Similarly, the appointment of Ouane as Prime Minister fulfils the demand for a civilian to be appointed to this leadership position. In terms of the reference, in the PSC communique of its 946th session of 17 September, to rejection of the influence of the military in the transition, the dissolution of the CNSP is an important step. At the same time, this reference to the influence of the military touches on the overall composition of the transitional government. Of particular interest in this respect is that four ministries including defense, internal security, territorial administration and national reconciliation are assigned to members of the CNSP.

The President has established a government consisting of 25 ministries. Even though the number of ministries led by army members is not significant as compared to the 25 membership of the cabinet, the portfolios of those ministries are however central for the country’s political transition and security. With the current composition, overall the transitional government can be characterized as a civilian led government with representation of members of the military in key portfolios. The effectiveness of Mali’s transition, similar to that of Sudan, will also depend on the kind of agency that they will be able to exercise.

For tomorrow’s session, the technical considerations, despite their political weight, are not the only or even most important considerations. In its application of AU norms, PSC also takes account of the needs of the context. In this respect, there are at least three important considerations. The first is the necessity for having an authority whose role as government is free from uncertainty. This is critical for both avoiding the political anxiety that results from uncertainty and for effective engagement to support the transitional process. This would be one of the issues that those briefing the Council may underscore. The second, related to the first, is the need for effective engagement of the Malian authorities in the effort to restore peace and security in the country. Indeed, the session may highlight that the fragile transition is taking place within the context of continued operation of terrorist groups in the country and in the region. The third consideration relates to the implementation of reforms including those within the framework of the 2015 peace agreement. On this latter point, it is envisaged that former armed groups parties to the Mali peace agreement of 2015 will also be represented in the transitional government.

There are also clear indications from the dynamics in the PSC that there will be strong support for the lifting of the suspension of Mali. Members of the PSC from the ECOWAS region would in pursuit of the ECOWAS decision lifting the sanctions on Mali would make a case for the PSC to follow ECOWAS. There are also other PSC members who support this position. Mali’s Ambassador, Fafre Kamara, engaged various PSC members and met with Chergui to brief them on progress made in Mali. It is not expected that there will be opposition to the lifting of Mali’s suspension.

At the same time, as part of ensuring support for the transitional process including for implementation of reform measures to address the governance and security issues that led to the political crisis, various members of the PSC may also indicate that the lifting of the suspension is done within the parameters of applicable AU rule constitutional governance. In this respect, apart from the need for adhering to the 18 month period of the transition, such members may highlight, the importance of using the transitional period for strengthening political stability including through mobilizing consensus around the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement, the rolling out of local governance structures and the creation of conditions for the convening of credible parliamentary and presidential elections. The issue of non-participation of the members of the CNSP and the transitional government in the formation of a new government that will be established on the basis of elections as required by AU norms may also arise.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to lift the suspension of Mali and express its support for the transitional process as a means for the restoration of constitutional order in Mali. In light of this the PSC may also welcome the decision of ECOWAS. Deciding to continue being seized with the situation, the PSC may underline the importance for the transitional government to adhere to the decisions made during the Accra Summit on 15 September including the need to maintain the civilian nature of the transition, the need to work within the agreed upon timeframe of 18 month and the dissolution of the CNSP. The Council may also reiterate the need for the consolidation of the political and security situation in the country. In this respect, the PSC may welcome the release of government and military officials that were detained in the context of the 18 August coup and commend the transitional government for securing the release of Malian politician Soumaïla Cissé, who was kidnapped in March, and French aid worker, as part of a prisoner exchange involving up to 200 extremist fighters that have been in government custody.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Briefing on the situation in Mali

Mali and Sahel

Date | 17 September, 2020

Tomorrow (17 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold a briefing on the situation in Mali. The meeting is expected to take place through VTC.

As per the terms of the communiqué of the 941st session of the PSC, the Council is scheduled to receive update from the AU Commission Chairperson on the evaluation of the situation in Mali. This is to be presented by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui. The AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel and the Head of MISAHEL, former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya is also expected to brief the Council. It is also anticipated that the PSC will hear from the current Chairperson of ECOWAS on its engagements with the Malian stakeholders for the restoration of constitutional order in Mali.

After continued popular protest for several months organized under the umbrella alliance of opposition groups and CSOs known as the June 5 Movement-Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP), on 18 August mutinying soldiers detained Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse. The same day the President announced his resignation and the dissolution of his government and the National Assembly.

Following these developments, which the PSC deemed as an unconstitutional change of government, the Council held an emergency meeting on 19 August and decided to immediately suspended Mali from participating in all AU activities until the restoration of constitutional order in the country.

On 20 August ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held an extraordinary session through videoconference on the situation in Mali. They called for the immediate restoration of the constitutional order and the immediate reinstatement of President Keita. In a pursuit of this objective, a delegation led by the ECOWAS mediator former President Goodluck Jonathan was dispatched to Mali. The delegation met President Keita, with the Constitutional Court as well as with the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) to discuss the steps for the restoration of the constitutional order in the country. Few days after ECOWAS’s mission CNSP announced the release of President Keita.

On 28 August, in a follow up extraordinary summit, ECOWAS Heads of State and Government recalibrated their 20 August decision on reinstatement of President Keita and took note of his resignation. The ECOWAS summit called for speedy establishment of a civilian transitional authority with appointment of a civilian transition president and civilian prime minister. It decided that the political transition should not exceed 12 months and the civilian transitional administration should be established based on consultations with the Constitutional Court, political parties, CSOs and other members of the public.

The Malian protest group known as the M5-RFP met with the military junta that ousted President Keita and expressed its intention to work with CNSP. After delays of the initial plan for the meeting between the M5-RFP and the CNSP, the meeting was finally held at the Kati military base outside of Bamako. The two held another meeting on 4 September. The CNSP also held consultations with political parties on 31 August at the Ministry of Defence and Veterans. Although the CNSP announced a plan to travel to northern Mali for meeting with key political forces, it was reportedly cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

After the various meetings held with various stakeholders including the M5-RFP, political parties and CSOs, on 6 September the CNSP announced that a national consultation will be held for an agreement on the transitional roadmap. The national consultation on the transition in Mali took place on 10-12 September. Convened in Mali’s capital Bamako, the national consultation brought together 500 participants from various sectors of the public including the M5-RFP, CSOs, political parties, and journalists. Among the international observers present at the opening of the consultation was the AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, Buyoya.

In his briefing, some of the areas in respect of which Buyoya may provide details include the national consultation and the transitional charter. In this respect, issues of particular interest for tomorrow’s session also include the composition of the national consultation and the degree to which it reflects the diversity of social and political interests in Mali, the conduct of the consultation and the implications of the strong objection that the M5-RFP expressed against the transitional charter.

Despite the apparent national character of the participants of the national consultation, armed groups that are active in Northern Mali, including the Coordination for the Movement of Azawad, who signed the 2015 peace agreement, did not participate. Sidi Brahim Ould Sidatt, the leader of the Azawad group, is reported to have said ‘we have two choices …either we enter the transition process and have made a new constitution of Mali together in which we reorganize ourselves or we wait after the transition and we continue negotiations with the government that will be put in place.’

At the start of the consultation the leader of the CNSP colonel Assimi Goîta stated that the consultation was an opportunity for the nation’s vital forces to discuss the concerns of the moment and the future, underscoring the need to diagnose the evils which undermine efforts of democratization and adopt urgent measures. During the consultation, the participants considered and proposed inputs for a transitional charter that was drafted by an expert committee. At the end of the two days of national consultations, participants adopted a transitional charter, which faced opposition, among others by the M5-RFP.

The transitional charter establishes the office of the president, the vice president, a transitional government with a prime minister and maximum of 25 ministers. It also defines their responsibilities with the vice president for example assigned to be in charge of defence, security and the reorganization of the state. The Charter also establishes a transitional national council, which will serve as a legislative assembly. The membership of legislative body is envisaged to be made up of 121 members from the defense and security forces and all sectors in the country.

According to the spokesperson who presented the report on the consultation, under the Charter the interim president can be a civilian or a military and will preside over a transitional period of 18 months before elections are held. It is also envisaged that the interim president will be selected by a council chosen by the military junta. This is indicative of the enormous influence and pressure that the junta exerted on the national consultation and in shaping the contents of the transitional charter.

Indicating the lack of consensus on the transitional charter finalized during the national consultation and the political disagreement on the transitional process, the M5-RFP, the influential coalition which led the mass protest that created the conditions for the downfall of President Keita, stated that it ‘distances itself from the resulting document.’ The M5-RFP said the document did not take into account what it said was a majority vote for civilian interim. It deemed the document as an attempt by military leaders to ‘grab and confiscate power.’

It is clear that the situation in Mali has descended into further political uncertainties. The factors that account for this include the apparent determination of the juntas to exercise firm control over the transition, the opposition that the M-RFP raised to the transitional charter and the non-participation of key northern actors in the national consultation. Unless urgent measures are taken to address this situation, there is risk of deepening uncertainty on the governance of the country. If the opposition to the transitional charter escalates into political contestation over the transition with return of protesters to the streets, it can plunge Mali into further instability, aggravating the prevailing insecurity in the country.
ECOWAS’s 57th ordinary session of Heads of State and Government held on 7 September adopted a decision that the Malian forces has to appoint a transitional civilian president and prime Minister by no later than 15 September or face further sanctions. It is to be recalled that ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Mali including closure of its borders with its neighbours.

When ECOWAS convened a consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana under the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority, President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo on 15 September, the deadline that ECOWAS set for the appointment of a civilian led transitional government has not been met. The AU was represented in the ECOWAS meeting through the AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, Buyoya, who, in his intervention is also expected to provide updates on the Accra meeting. Apart from underscoring the urgency of establishing a responsible government in Mali at the start of the meeting, President Akufo-Addo, who told reporters that ‘we have not reached agreement with the military junta’, insisted that ‘we need a civilian leadership of the transition and we have also made it clear that the minute that leadership is put in place, the sanctions would be lifted.’ ECOWAS had decided that the transition has to be led by civilian president and prime minister throughout the entire period of the transition. Upon the establishment of the civilian transition ECOWAS pledged to accompany Mali in the effort toward the reestablishment of constitutional order in conformity with the applicable protocols of ECOWAS. It is however agreed that the duration of the transition period would be for 18 months as stipulated in the transitional charter rather than the 12 months set by ECOWAS.

The situation presents a major challenge to both the ECOWAS and the AU norms banning military coups. With its deadline unmet, the military junta bent on assuming leading role during the transition and the civilian opposition to the transitional charter, the applicable norms are sure to necessitate further sanctions on the military junta if it persists with its wish to preside over the transitional process. It is to be recalled that in 2012 ECOWAS imposed economic, financial and diplomatic sanctions after the junta that usurped power by coup failed to meet a 72-hour deadline set by the regional body. Similarly, rejecting what it called, ‘all delaying tactics of the perpetrators of the coup d’état’, the PSC at its 316th session decided, ‘in view of the refusal of the military junta to respond immediately and in good faith to the requests of the AU and ECOWAS, to impose, with immediate effect, individual measures, including travel ban and asset freeze, against the leader and members of the junta, as well as against all individuals and entities contributing, in one way or another, to the maintenance of the unconstitutional status quo and impeding AU and ECOWAS efforts.’

The expected outcome of the meeting is a communique. The PSC is expected to express its concern about the lack of progress towards the establishment of a transitional civilian authority and the restoration of constitutional order and the adverse impacts of this delay on the peace process in Mali and the effort to stabilize the country. The PSC may reiterate its strong rejection of the interference of the military in political affairs contrary to the 2000 Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Governments and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and condemn the intransigence of the military junta and the delays for transferring power to a civilian transitional authority. Expressing its support for the efforts of ECOWAS, the PSC may also endorse the decision of the ECOWAS from its 15 September meeting in Accra on the necessity of transferring power to a civilian transitional authority paving the way for the restoration of constitutional order, which needs to be in accordance with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The PSC may also take further measures for adding pressure on the junta to facilitate, within the framework of ECOWAS decision and the rules of the various applicable AU norms, the speedy designation of the civilian authorities that will preside over the transitional period.


PSC Consideration of the MNJTF Mandate Renewal

Mali and Sahel

Date | 28 November, 2019

Tomorrow (28 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold a session on  the  security  situation  in  the  Lake  Chad  Basin  region  and to consider the mandate renewal of the Multi‐National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

The  representative  of  the  Lake  Chad  Basin  Commission  (LCBC) is expected to brief the Council. LCBC member states as well as Benin are also expected to deliver their statements.  The  AU  Department  of  Peace  and  Security  (PSD) and UNOAU representative may also make an intervention.

It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 816th session has renewed  the  mandate  of  the  MNJTF  for  12  month  effective from 31 January 2019. The communique LCBC requested  the  LCBC  Secretariat  to  provide  biannual  briefing on the implementation of the Regional Strategy for  the  Stabilization.  It  is  to  be  recalled  that  the  LCBC  briefed the PSC at its 838th session in April 2019 and the Council  called  for  a  ‘comprehensive  and  rapid  implementation of the Regional Strategy’. As a follow up to  this,  it  is  also  expected  that  the  LCBC  presents  an  update on the implementation of the strategy. The Strategy,  drawn  up  with  the  support  of  the  AU  PSD  as  part of post conflict reconstruction and development work,  was  adopted  by  the  LCBC  member  states  on  30  August 2018 and later on 5 December 2018 by the PSC.

It is expected that the briefing is to provide highlights of the  activities  that  were  undertaken  since  the  last  PSC  session on the matter. The LCBC briefing may include the outcome of the second meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum held in Niamey, from 17‐18 July 2019. The  meeting,  which  brought  together  eight  regions  of  the Lake Chad Basin countries affected by Boko Haram primarily  aimed  at  enhancing  cross‐border  cooperation  and the implementation of the Regional Strategy. One of the key outcomes was the pledge made by donors where they  committed  around  60  million  USD  to  the  establishment of a stabilization facility that will coordinate the implementation of the Strategy. The PSC may  request  an  update  regarding  the  establishment  of  the facility as well as the practical measures taken in implementing the Strategy.

In  accelerating  the  implementation  of  the  Regional  Strategy, the PSC may also recall its previous decision, which  tasked  the  AU  Commission  to  support  the  LCBC  secretariat to ‘develop a clear roadmap for the implementation of the strategy’, a resource mobilization strategy  and  the  convening  of  a  solidarity  conference  under the Africa Solidarity Initiative. The statement by the PSD may provide details on the support provided and on the remaining tasks.

The briefing may make reference to the 2020‐2024 eight‐point action plan in combatting and eradiation terrorism adopted  at  the  ECOWAS  extraordinary  summit  in  Ouagadougou on 14 September 2019. It is expected that the mandate renewal will consider the priority areas that were  identified  by  the  ECOWAS  meeting  which  range from coordination, training, financing and dialogue.  The  action plan, which is expected to serve as resource mobilization tool is expected to be finalized and adopted at the ECOWAS ordinary session on 21 December 2019. The  framework  may  also  offer  guidance  for  the  PSC  in  assessing not only the military operation of the MNJTF but  also  in  examining  the  deliverables  against  the  comprehensive set priority areas in the Regional Strategy.

The MNJTF has recorded operational successes in many of the offensives undertaken in the region including the liberation  of  occupied  territories  and  in  reducing  the  capabilities of the group. But various factors continue to enable  proliferation  of  terrorist  groups  in  the  wider  region. It is reported that new members coming from Libya and Syria have joined the ranks of terrorist groups in the region including North East Nigeria.

Despite  the  success  the  MNJTF  registered,  the  insurgency remains to be capable of orchestrating attacks and providing support for other groups. The UN Secretary  General  Report  on  West  Africa  and  the  Sahel  indicates that in the first six months of 2019, ‘despite counter‐terrorism efforts, the “Islamic State West Africa Province”  faction  of  Boko  Haram  expanded  its  area  of  operations’. The armed group continued to use suicide bombers  against  civilians  and  security  and  defence  forces. Between January and April alone 189 terrorist attacks  took  place  in  the  northern  states  of  Nigeria,  resulting in 453 deaths and 201 kidnappings.

In  a  dangerous  development,  the  group  has  increased  the use of suicide vehicle‐borne improvised explosive devices  (IED)  against  national  security  forces  and  the  MNJTF in the countries of the Lake Chad region. In the past six‐month there has also been renewed attacks on army deployments and civilians.

It  is  also  critical  for  tomorrow’s  session  to  not  only  highlight the military efforts that aim at addressing immediate  security  concerns  but  also  to  ensure  that  there is adequate deliberation on addressing root causes and restoring sustainable peace, which are key elements identified  in  the  Regional  Stabilization  Strategy.  Indeed,  the presidential statement of the 8592nd meeting of the UN Security Council, held on 7 August 2019, underlined ‘the need for security efforts to be aligned with political objectives, to enable the restoration of civilian security, the  establishment  of  effective  governance  to  deliver  essential services, and the revival of local economies to provide  livelihood  opportunities  for  surging  youth  populations’. These are also key elements identified in the Regional Strategy. The upsurge of terrorist groups in the  region  have  added  urgency  to  the  imperative  of  enhancing national ownership and prioritizing political strategies,  notably  active  and  sustained  engagement  of  national leaders in the affected areas and strengthening state  institutions  and  bolstering  the  legitimacy  of  local  structures of government in those areas and others susceptible to penetration of terrorist groups.

The  expected  outcome  is  a  communiqué.  The  PSC  may  commend the LCBC member states and Benin in their counter‐terrorism efforts.  It  may welcome  the outcome  of the meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum on  the  implementation  of  the  Regional  Strategy.  It  may call for increased efforts in realizing the objectives of the Strategy. It may task the AUC to support member states in developing implementation tools to monitor and track progress by also aligning it with the 2020‐2024 ECOWAS counter‐terrorism  action  plan.  It  may  also  reiterate  the  need for the convening of a solidarity conference. The PSC  could  also  express  concern  on  the  volatile  security  situation in the region despite the sustained efforts of the MNJTF and may in this regard urge the prioritization of political processes that facilitate the enhancement of legitimate  structures  of  governance  at  the  local  levels  and the delivery of social services. Considering the political and security developments in the region, it may renew the mandate of the force for another 12 months.


PSC Heads of State and Government session on Libya and the Sahel

Mali and Sahel

Date | 8 February, 2020

Tomorrow (8 February) the African Union (AU) Peace
and Security Council (PSC) will convene a meeting at the Heads of State and Government level on the situations in Libya and the Sahel. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat and the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Cergui, are expected to brief the Council. President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to deliver a statement on behalf of the A3. Also expected to deliver a statement is President of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, the Chair of the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya.

The fighting in Libya that intensified following the launch of an offensive by the opposition militia Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar against the internationally recognized Tripoli based Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj has worsened an already dire security situation in the country. Fragmentation of the country among warring factions has increased. Flow of weapons has spiked despite a UN Security Council arms embargo. Various reports show that over 218 civilians have been killed and over 289 civilians have been injured due to the ongoing conflict from attacks that use indiscriminate weaponry, being directly targeted, or being casualties to Explosive Remnants of War in conflict-affected areas including Tripoli and Murzuq. As a result of the renewed fighting, 2019 represented the highest level of displacement since 2014-2015, with a 305 per cent increase in new displacement from 2018.
Further compounding the situation and even making the resolution of the conflict in Libya nearly impossible is the intensification of regional and global rivalry and proxy war on Libya. Over the years, the Libyan conflict has increasingly transformed into a proxy war where a number of countries in the region and global powers have made the country a theatre for advancing their competing political, ideological and economic interests in the country by sending financial, political and military support for the warring parties in Libya.

On the one hand Al-Sarraj’s administration is recognized and backed by the UN and other actors including the US, Turkey, Italy and Qatar. While Egypt and UAE are aiming at curbing the spread of GNA’s faction affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey are supporters. On the hand Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan have provided support to Haftar. Mercenaries, which are considered to be affiliated with Russia, are involved in the fighting in support of the LNA. The rivalry over the control for the country’s oil reserves among warring parties has also exacerbated the dire security situation. On 8 January, the two major actors in the conflict Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initiated a truce in Libya commencing on 12 January. Although an attempt was made to bring both Haftar and al-Sarraj together to sign the ceasefire, this was not successful given that Haftar left Moscow without signing the agreement.

On 19 January, a high-level conference was convened in Berlin in an attempt to contain the heavy external interference in Libya. The Berlin Conference, in which the AU Commission Chairperson and the Foreign Minister of Congo participated, ended with the conference conclusions articulating the six baskets including: ceasefire, arms embargo, political process, security, economic and financial, international humanitarian law and human rights law matters. As part of the follow up process Serraj and Haftar have each
nominated five representatives to be part of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which was proposed by UN Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) towards the operationalization of the conclusions. In the midst of this highly complex external actors’ involvement, the AU continues to urge for restraint of foreign powers and for a stronger African led political process. The AU PSC during its ministerial meeting held on 27 September 2019, has stressed the need ‘for an effective and urgent involvement of the AU in the search for a lasting political solution to the crisis in Libya’. The Council also supported and reiterated the decision of the AU High Level Committee on Libya, taken at its meeting of 8 July 2019, on the appointment of a joint African Union/United Nations Envoy for Libya towards ensuring a more robust, coordinated and AU led peace process. Tomorrow’s session may further reiterate the importance of AU’s role in resolving the crisis. The session also follows the recently concluded 8th meeting of the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, held in Brazzaville, on 30 January. Three African Heads of State including the Chair of the Committee and the host of the meeting President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Chairperson of the PSC for February, and Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania were in attendance. The committee decided to convene an inter-Libyan Reconciliation Conference in consultation
with Libyan parties, neighbouring countries and the United Nations. The committee condemned the continued
external interference in Libya, although commitments were made during the Berlin conference, which was held
ten days earlier.

Despite the effort by Germany in bringing the various stakeholders, there are still sharp divisions. Although Germany urged for a UNSC resolution supporting the outcome of the Berlin conference, the divergent position within UNSC, particularly between the US and Russia prevented the adoption of a binding document. Moreover, the UNSMIL in a statement released on 25 January indicated the continuation of ‘transfer of foreign fighters, weapons, ammunition and advanced systems to the parties by member states, including several who participated in the Berlin Conference’.

The situation in the Sahel

The second agenda item that is expected to be discussed is the situation in the Sahel. Perhaps more than any other part of the continent, where the sound of the guns has become loudest is the violence region of the Sahel. The number of violent incidents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has increased sharply. In geographic scope as well, the violence in the Sahel has during 2019 spread across the region. As the UN Chief Representative for West Africa said in a briefing to the UN Security Council on 8 January 2020, this geographic expansion of terrorist attacks ‘is increasingly threatening West African coastal States’. The other layer of violence that has also become recurrent and increasingly lethal in the region is inter-communal clashes. One of the key aspects to this security threat is the adverse effect of climate change and the failure of governments to put in place mitigating measures, thereby creating a situation for rivalry over increasingly depleting scarce resources to erupt into violent conflicts. Over the course of 2019, fighting and terrorist attacks in Mali forced more than 80,000 people flee their homes. Burkina Faso witnessed the most surge in violence in 2019, the number of people displaced increased by tenfold to over 560,000, with the figure predicted to skyrocket to 900,000 people by April 2020. Across the three affected countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, since the start of 2019, more than 670,000 children have been forced to flee their homes. According to UNICEF, between April 2017 and December 2019, the three countries witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to violence.

The instability in Libya has contributed to the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region. The ECOWAS extra-ordinary Summit held on 14 September 2019 has also underlined the effect of the crisis in Libya in the region by labelling it as the ‘hotbed for terrorism in West Africa’. Towards preventing and combatting terrorism the Summit adopted a priority action plan for 2020-2024 on selected priority areas.

In addition to the activities of terrorist groups in the region, the PSC may also discuss on the kind of peace and security tools required to effectively address the crisis in the Sahel beyond and above the use of conventional military response and peacekeeping response, which has faltered to deliver contain the situation. President Macron and the G5 Sahel Heads of the State held a meeting in Pau on 13 January. While they agreed on “new political, strategic and operational framework” that is anchored in four pillars: the fight against terrorism, capacity building for states forces in the region, restoring state authority and development assistance, much of the focus remains on reinforcing military responses with France announcing to increase its military presence in the Sahel by adding 600 troops to its existing 4500 in Mali and the four other countries in the region.

Such security heavy approaches that have been dominant delivered little result. If anything, such approaches have worsened the situation. There is a need for national actors of affected countries and regional bodies to assume leading responsibility and foregrounding political and governance efforts including by addressing the lacklustre implementation of the 2015 peace agreement in Mali. The PSC may recall its previous 863rd session on the Sahel, which decided to undertake a joint field mission with the European Union Political and Security Committee (EUPSC), to assess the situation and to provide support. In order to provide political and diplomatic support to countries in the region particularly in light of the grave security situation endured by the countries and to assess the presence of various actors the PSC may consider undertaking a mission to the Sahel region. This may also be timely if it takes place ahead of the expiry of the G5 mandate in April 2020. The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may reiterate its concern over the deteriorating security situation in Libya and its conviction that political process, rather than armed fighting, is the only solution to the conflict. It may propose based on its longstanding plan the establishment of truce and ceasefire and an AU led ceasefire monitoring mechanism based on the African Standby Force. The PSC may welcome the outcome of
the Brazzaville meeting of the High-Level Committee on Libya and the planned inter-Libyan reconciliation forum.

In order to address the external rivalry aggravating the crisis, it may call on the UNSC to assume its responsibilities by enforcing the arms embargo as called for in the outcome of the Berlin Conference. Apart from reiterating the appointment of an AU-UN Envoy on Libya for elevating the role of the AU and pursuing these policy objectives, the PSC may call for the AU to be a coconvener of the international follow up committee on Libya.

On the Sahel the PSC may note that response to the crisis in the Sahel should not be limited to military operations and may call on members states in the region to foster political dialogue and negotiation as means to reach a lasting peace in the region. It may also welcome the action plan adopted during the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS on combating and eradicating terrorism. Given the dire humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region, the PSC may call for the convening by the AU of a high-level conference on the humanitarian situation.


Renewal of G5 Sahel Joint Task Force and adoption of Strategic Concept of AU Force

Mali and Sahel

Date | 21 April, 2020

Today (21 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council is expected to consider the renewal of the mandate of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the adoption of the Strategic Concept Note to allow the development of a new Concept of Operation on the deployment of a 3000 AU force in support of the G5 Sahel. It is to be recalled that on 9 April 2019 the PSC renewed the mandate of the G5 Sahel Joint force during its 838th meeting, the PSC renewed the mandate of the G5 Sahel Joint Force for a period of 12 months until 12 April 2020. During today’s session the PSC is expected to renew the mandate of the Joint Force for a further period of 1 year from 13 April. The impact of measures adopted by countries of the Sahel to contain the novel coronavirus on the Joint Task force would be of interest for member states of the PSC. Also, of interest to the PSC is the current state of operationalization of the Joint Task Force.

The Joint Force continues to face various operational, capability and equipment shortfalls, limiting its full operationalization. The lack of air assets, armored vehicles and transport capabilities and individual protection equipment compounds the threat posed by the use of improvised explosive devices. The Joint Task Force is not the only ongoing operation in the Sahel. It operates alongside the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The relationship between the G5 Sahel Joint Task Force and MINUSMA is governed by resolution 2391 of 8 December 2019, under which MINUSMA provides operational and logistical support to the Joint Task Force.

Despite the large number of initiatives and the on-going efforts of the G5 Sahel Joint Task Force, the situation in the Sahel has witnessed major deterioration during the last quarter of 2019 and in early 2020. Perhaps more than any other part of the continent, where the sound of the guns has become loudest is in the Sahel. The number of violent incidents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has increased sharply. In geographic scope as well, the violence in the Sahel has during 2019 spread across the region. As the UN Chief Representative for West Africa said in a briefing to the UN Security Council on 8 January 2020, this geographic expansion of terrorist attacks ‘is increasingly threatening West African coastal States’. Over the course of 2019, fighting and terrorist attacks in Mali forced more than 80,000 people flee their homes. In Burkina Faso, that witnessed the most surge in violence in 2019, the number of people displaced increased by tenfold to over 560,000, with the figure predicted to skyrocket to 900,000 people by April 2020. Across the three affected countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, since the start of 2019, more than 670,000 children have been forced to flee their homes. According to UNICEF, between April 2017 and December 2019, the three countries witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to violence.

Against the background of the deteriorating security situation and in the context of the debate of the AU Assembly for a continental support for Sahel countries in the fight against the expanding terrorist threat, the 33rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly decided to deploy 3000 troops for a period of six months. It is to be recalled that during the ECOWAS summit on 14 September 2019, the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS tasked their respective ministers of defence and security with assessing the possibility of deploying and using the ECOWAS Standby Force in counter-terrorism operations. The Heads of State also pledged to mobilize $1 billion (2020–2024) for regional counter-terrorism efforts.

In pursuit of the AU Assembly decision, on 16 March 2020 the AU Commission convened a High-Level Consultative meeting with ECOWAS and G5 Sahel representatives in Niamey, Niger. One of the outcomes of the consultative meeting was the establishment of a technical committee of representatives of the AU Commission, ECOWAS and G5 Sahel to conduct the planning of the operation.

To inform today’s session relating to the endorsement of the 3000 AU troops to the Sahel, a strategic concept note has been shared with members of the PSC. The strategic concept note envisages that the strategic end state of 3000 AU troops is ‘to significantly degrade terrorist groups to allow the Sahel countries facilitate stabilization efforts across the affected communities and ensure effective capacity building of their National Defense and Security Forces to assume responsibilities in addressing regional security challenges’.

In considering the strategic concept note, it is of interest to member states of the PSC to consider a number of issues. One such issue is the scope of the mandate of the AU force. This relates to the question of whether the main role of the force is engaging in combat operation against armed terrorist groups in support of G5 Sahel countries. The other issue is the question of the relationship between the AU force and the G5 Joint Task Force. Other issues include the plan for mobilizing the troops and the provision of the required funding including for troop allowances, mission support and importantly the logistics.

In terms of command and control, there is also a question of clarity around the respective roles of the AU, ECOWAS and G5 Sahel. The 3000 AU force is initiated as an expression of solidarity of AU member states with countries of the Sahel region. While it requires for its success the use of a political strategy and the mobilization of the required legitimate infrastructure of local governance and socioeconomic
development interventions, the deployment of this force brings a much-needed additional support for the campaign to roll back the spread of terrorist operations in the Sahel region.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. It is expected that the PSC would express its concern about the expansion of terrorist attacks in the Sahel region. While welcoming the role of the G5 Sahel Joint Task Force, the PSC is also expected to renew the mandate of the Force for a further period of 12 months. In doing so, the PSC would also call for the provision of financial, training and logistical support to the Joint Task Force. The PSC is also expected to adopt the strategic concept note on the deployment of the 3000 strong AU force and give guidance on the planning of the deployment of the force including close consultation with the UN to prepare the ground work for authorization by the UN Security Council.


The fifth Anniversary of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali resulting from the Algiers Process

Mali and Sahel

Date | 26 June, 2020

Tomorrow (26 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its 933rd session on the 5th Anniversary of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali resulting from the Algiers Process.

It is expected that PSC members will conduct the meeting through video teleconference. It is expected that AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui will deliver a remark to the Council. Representative of Mali is also expected to make a statement. Presentation will be made by the representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which also includes Francis Behanzin, ECOWAS’s Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security. Additionally, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary General to Mali and head of MINUSMA is scheduled to deliver a presentation.

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali. The main objective of the session is to take stock of the process of implementation of the agreement and strengthen the support to the actors in Mali to speed up the implementation and ownership of the peace agreement. The session is also expected to assess the progress made and the key challenges that have emerged in implementing the peace agreement over the past five years.

There are some gains that have been made from the peace agreement. Despite the jihadist threat and the mounting political opposition facing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government, the agreement helped in stabilizing northern Mali. In the political front, in December 2019 Mali held a national dialogue that resulted in the adoption of four main resolutions. The resolutions primarily called for the holding of legislative elections before May 2020 and constitutional referendum, the redeployment of the restructured armed forces and State administration in the country and a review of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. The national dialogue played some positive role in reinfusing some momentum and mobilizing the signatories for the implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement.

As per the agreement of the national dialogue, the legislative elections were held on 29 March and 19 April. Due to the fear of insecurity and the COVID19 pandemic there was a low turnout. Voters in the two new regions (Ménaka and Taoudenit) created in northern Mali could not choose deputies in the April 2020 legislative elections because the electoral districts had not yet been delineated. Despite the various challenges the elections were held and the country’s Constitutional Court has confirmed the results of the legislative elections.

With respect to the parts of the agreement on development (Section IV) and reconciliation (Section V), no major progress registered. As a recent report pointed out, a long-term development fund designed to support initiatives in northern Mali has been set up, but its joint administration by the Malian authorities and armed groups remains a challenge. Mali’s truth, justice and reconciliation commission, established in 2014, has continued its role as defined in the 2015 agreement, and it began holding public hearings in December 2019. In terms of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, the redeployment of reconstituted forces has taken place in Northern parts of the country.

Yet, major implementation gaps persist. According to the Carter Centre, which was designated as the independent observer in Mali, in 2017, 22 per cent of the agreement’s provisions had been put into effect, compared to 23 per cent three years later. As noted in the report of the UN Secretary-General
submitted on 2 June 2020, political actors are still under discussion on setting a timeframe for the constitutional reform, which was expected to take place following the election. It is important to note that the constitutional review, key for the implementation of the political and institutional reform of Mali’s system of governance based on devolution and through instituting a senate and regional assemblies whose presidents would be elected through direct universal suffrage, has been postponed since 2017.

Despite the redeployment of reconstituted forces in Northern parts of the country, the parties have as yet to find mutually acceptable effective way of integrating former armed groups’ members in the national army and its chain of command. The operationalization of deployed forces requires training and capacity building, which has been delayed due to the COVID19 pandemic. This has affected the disarmament and reintegration process as well.

While the agreement is a critical stepping-stone for the country’s stability and remains the only viable peace framework agreement, it however suffers from lack of political commitment for its implementation. Community based organizations in both northern and southern Mali meant to ensure representation of local population were excluded. There are now more public campaigns protesting against the peace agreement than in support of it. For the PSC, one of the key issues of interest in respect of which members may seek insights from the briefers is the apparent lack of sense of ownership of the peace agreement even among the signatories and how this can be addressed.

Apart from issues internal to the peace process, there are other issues that have adverse impact on the peace agreement as well. The heightening political opposition and tension in Bamako is one such factor. On 5 June, a major opposition protest was staged with protesters calling for the resignation of President Kieta. In a sign of the protest movement gaining steam, further protests involving large group of people took place on 19 June. Prompted by complaints about the election outcome and the abduction of leading opposition leader Soumaila Cisse while campaigning ahead of the parliamentary election in March. On 22 June, AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, issued a statement expressing ‘deep concern’ about ‘the serious crisis that has plagued Mali since the popular protest on June 5, 2020’. The other factor which also contributes to the political instability is the security situation. Currently, the overall security situation in Mali and the Sahel region remains worrying. Terrorism and inter-communal clashes are still prevalent. The impact of the pandemic on restriction of movement has also enabled terrorist groups to utilize the security vacuum to make advances and attack civilians and security forces. As indicated in the Secretary General report over the past three months alone a total of 169 civilians were killed.

The compounded effects of socio-economic challenges, weak state control, and protracted violence and conflict exacerbated by the impact of means that the humanitarian situation continues to be dire. There are close to 200,000 Malian refugees taking refuge in neighbouring countries and about 250,000 are internally displaced.

Thus, the fifth anniversary of the agreement is taking place in a midst of a number of political upheavals and security challenges putting the peace agreement at peril. It would be of interest for the PSC to review how to maintain the peace process and retain the gains made and how it may also contribute working with ECOWAS and the UN towards addressing the multifaceted challenges inhibiting progress.

It is to be recalled that the worsening of the security situation has resulted in the decision of the AU Summit in February 2020 to deploy the Joint Multinational Task Force (JMTF) with 3000 troops for six months, in order to further degrade terrorist groups in the Sahel by supporting the G5 Sahel and working closely with ECOWAS. Although the details of the JMTF are still being developed and this force, when deployed, can contribute towards stemming the expansion of terrorism in the region, it is debatable if the further militarization of the country and the region is what the situation in Mali warrants.

Tomorrow’s session is also taking place ahead of the UNSC session on United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the situation in Mali. Before the end of this month the UNSC is also expected to hold a session to renew the mandate of MINUSMA, which expires on 30 June. UN Security Council Resolution 2480 (2019) extended the mandate of MINUSMA until 30 June with the capacity of 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police personnel.

In the same resolution the Security Council urged for the swift and strengthened implementation of the agreement noting of the delays created in the earlier years of agreement. Additionally, before the end of the current mandate of MINUSMA, among other it urged Malian political actors to complete of the constitutional reform and the transfer of decentralized State services to local authorities, resolve pending issues related to the concept of reconstituted and reformed Malian national forces. In the briefing to the PSC, the head of MINUSMA is expected to inform the PSC about these issues and the contribution of MINUSMA to the peace process in Mali, including in supporting the DDR process. The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may welcome the gains registered in Mali with respect to the peace agreement. It may particularly welcome the successful conclusion of the national dialogue and the legislative election as well as the deployment of a reconstituted Malian army battalion in February 2020 in Kidal. It may urge the government to adopt a more inclusive and consultative approach in implementing the agreement. It may also underscore the imperative for the
signatories to assume their full responsibilities under the peace agreement and take full ownership for its implementation on the basis of firm political will and active mobilization public support. The PSC may in particular urge the government and all Malian political forces to create the conditions for the convening of the constitutional referendum as reaffirmed in the outcome of the December 2019 national dialogue. The PSC may
also welcome the statement of the AU Commission Chairperson and reiterate his call for the parties to work together to find consensual solutions to end the political crisis following the June 5 public protests. It may also express concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the country, which continue to undermine the gains made so far and the efficacy of the peace agreement. It may condemn the abduction of Soumaila Cisse and urge the government to strengthen efforts for his immediate release. It may call on the international community to strengthen their efforts, including on the basis of benchmarks and processes of support jointly crafted by Mali and the guarantors of the peace agreement, in bringing lasting peace and stability in the region by ensuring the complete implementation of the agreement.


Briefing on the Revised Strategic Concept Note Planning Guidance for the Deployment of an Additional 3000 troops to the Sahel

Mali and Sahel

Date | 30 July, 2020

Tomorrow (30 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to receive a briefing on the draft revised Strategic Concept Note Planning Guidance for the deployment of an additional 3000 troops to the Sahel. It is expected that PSC members will conduct the meeting through video teleconference. The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, and Burundi, as the Chair of the PSC Military Staff Committee are expected to brief the Council. Representative of members of the G5 Sahel also expected to deliver statement.

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly (decision 792) decided to deploy 3000 AU troops for six months to degrade terrorist groups in the Sahel region. Pursuant to this decision, the PSC held its 920th session, on 21 April 2020, to consider the draft Strategic Concept Guidance on Planning for the deployment of 3000 strong force. The PSC welcomed the draft concept as an initial document to be further enriched by consultations among the concerned member states in the region more particularly the Ministers of Defence of the G5 Sahel countries and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as the PSC military staff committee. The Council further requested to receive a comprehensive briefing on the security situation in the Sahel and to consider the revised strategic concept note by 15 June 2020.

In light of this decision, one aspect of tomorrow’s briefing is expected to shed light on the security trends in the region and the other part will present the revised draft of the Strategic Concept Note Planning Guidance for Deployment of 3000 troops to the Sahel. The security situation in the Sahel remains highly volatile. The June 2020 report of the Secretary-General of the UN revealed the deterioration of the security situation in the region in the first half of 2020. The recurrent coordinated terrorist attacks on civilians and security forces, as well as forced recruitment and abductions, has continued particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

Moreover, the compounded effects of COVID19 in the region have also brought limitation on mediation and diplomatic efforts as well as humanitarian action. Also of concern for the PSC is the political instability facing Mali and the lack of breakthrough in the confrontation between the Government and June 5 protest movement and the impact of this situation on the peace process in Mali and the security situation in Mali and the Sahel. Similarly, the 8 May 2020 Secretary-General report on the G5 Sahel illustrated the dire humanitarian and security situation in the region. According to the report, the number of people that died due to terrorist attacks has increased five fold since 2016. In 2019 alone 4000 people have died compared to 770 in 2016. The humanitarian situation in the region is alarming. In Burkina Faso alone the rate of displacement over the past fours years has increased ten fold.

Hence the deployment of the additional force is taking place within the context of deteriorating security situation in the region. To this end the briefing is expected to provide an update on the steps taken and the consultations held since the April 2020 PSC session to inform the development of the strategic concept note. In this regard the briefing may highlight the major consultations held including the 20 May 2020 virtual meeting of the Commissioner for Peace and Security with Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the G5 Countries namely Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The Ministers requested for the Chiefs of Defence Forces of the G5 Sahel Countries to provide technical advice.

Following this meeting, the PSC military staff committee has also held various informal and formal consultations during the chairpersonship of Lesotho and Algeria in May
and June respectively. Moreover on 24 June 2020, a virtual meeting was held between the Commissioner for Peace and Security and the Chiefs of Defence Forces (CDFs) of the G5 Sahel Countries. The need for the deployment of the additional 3000 troops was also echoed by the CDFs and they were also able to contribute in providing guidance on the technical aspect of the deployment.

The various consultations have informed the revision of the strategic concept note. The document, which will be considered in tomorrow’s session is expected to present the overall objective of the force, the terms of reference of the technical committee for planning of the deployment of the force, which was established following the 16 March 2020 the AUC High-Level Consultative meeting with ECOWAS and G5 Sahel representatives in Niamey.

Moreover, the revised strategic concept note is expected to provide further details on force generation, command and control as well as the planning and timeframe of the
deployment process. It would be of interest for the PSC to seek clarification on how the new force will relate to and coordinate with existing security mechanisms most notably the G5 Sahel Force. Moreover, the PSC may further inquire on the mechanism of restructure, the changes in command and harmonization of policies and operation between the G5 and the new force.

It would also be of interest for the PSC to follow up on the Assembly decision 792 which requested the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) to explore funding options to cover the expenses of the deployment. Additionally, pursuant to the same decision it may also follow up on the disbursement of ECOWAS’s pledge of 100 million USD in support to countries in the region namely Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to support the deployment of the force. With regards to resource mobilization and funding for the force, the PSC may also recall ECOWAS’s decision at its 56th ordinary session, which adopted the 2020-2024 Action Plan to eradicate terrorism in the Sahel region. The action plan budgeted an estimate of two billion three hundred million USD, among which one billion USD is expected to be generated internally by member states. The PSC may follow up on this decision and seek clarification how this budget can also support the deployment of the new force.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may express concern over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation as well as the intensification of terrorist attacks in the region. It may particularly make reference to the current context of COVID19 pandemic and its impact on the security situation in the region. The PSC may express its concern about the political crisis in Mali and underscore the necessity of urgent resolution of the crisis through inclusive and agreed roadmap to ensure that it does not undermine the peace process and the security situation in the country any further. The PSC is expected to adopt the strategic concept note on the deployment of the 3000 strong AU force and provide guidance on the planning of the deployment of the force in consultation with ECOWAS, G5 and UN under the technical committee framework. It may further request the UN Security Council to consider the authorization of the force. It may request the AUC to provide regular update on the deployment process.