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Mali: not jeopardizing political stabilization

The situation in Mali remains tense. The United Nations Security Council has called on interim institutions to draw up a roadmap for a transition process quickly. After the head of government, Cheick Modibo Diarra, was first detained and then stepped down, interim President Traoré named Diango Cissoko the new head of government. Foreign Minister Westerwelle voiced concern about developments in Mali, stating on 11 December that the events were threatening the efforts to stabilize the country politically. The only way to resolve the crisis in northern Mali was to restore constitutional order, he went on.

Minister Westerwelle called upon interim President Traoré and all political leaders in the country to act responsibly so that Mali could find its way back to stability.

Domestic developments had increased international concern about Mali. On 10 December, the previous head of government, Cheick Modibo Diarra, had been arrested by soldiers late in the night. He then resigned.

The United Nations Security Council condemns interference by the army

In a press statement of 11 December, the UN Security Council condemned the actions of the army and recalled its resolutions 2056 (2012) and 2071 (2012) which called for Mali’s army not to interfere in the work of the transitional government. At the same time, the Security Council expressed its support for interim president Diancounda Traoré, calling on him to swiftly reappoint a government of national unity. It also called for progress to be made on establishing a transitional road map. In the meantime, President Traoré has named Diango Cissoko head of government.

In March 2012, sections of the military under the leadership of Captain Amadou Sanogo launched a coup against the then President Amadou Toumani Touré. During the coup and the unrest that followed, Islamist groups managed to gain control of large parts of northern Mali. After mediation efforts headed by the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS, Dioncounda Traoré was appointed interim President on 12 April.

On 11 December, Minister Westerwelle issued an urgent appeal to all political powers in Mali to launch a political process. But at the same time he made clear: “Our offers of assistance were made on the condition that the work to restore constitutional order in Mali is performed in a convincing manner.”

Clear commitment to reconciliation and dialogue

Foreign Minister Westerwelle with interim President Traoré during the Minister’s visit to Mali

Foreign Minister Westerwelle with interim President Traoré during the Minister’s visit to Mali
© Photothek / Th. Trutschel

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Foreign Minister Westerwelle with interim President Traoré during the Minister’s visit to Mali

Foreign Minister Westerwelle with interim President Traoré during the Minister’s visit to Mali

Foreign Minister Westerwelle with interim President Traoré during the Minister’s visit to Mali

If the negotiations with the players in the north of the country are to be successful, there had to be a clear commitment from the political leadership in the capital Bamako that they really want reconciliation and dialogue, the Minister pointed out.

The German Foreign Minister visited Mali on 1 November as part of his trip to the region and had talks with several political leaders in Bamako. Back then there were signals that a political roadmap was in the pipeline, he pointed out. The reality was new insecurities and turmoil. “It of course needs to be clear that the political process, that is the restoration of constitutional order, is one that all players actually want,” the Minister underscored.

EU Foreign Ministers’ Crisis Management Concept

On 10 December, the EU Foreign Ministers approved a Crisis Management Concept to serve as the basis for an EU training mission for Mali. Earlier on 11 November, ECOWAS decided to send some 3500 military personnel to Mali to help resolve the conflict. ECOWAS, the AU and the now former Government of Mali had asked the United Nations Security Council to authorize and support the deployment of an international military force. With the help of a report by the UN Secretary-General, the Security Council is currently examining whether and how to fulfil this request.

Widespread suffering

The humanitarian situation in Mali has been critical for months. According to the UN, almost 350,000 people have fled their homes, of which some 200,000 are displaced within their own country. Speaking in the Security Council on 10 December, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, pointed out that this massive uprooting is further worsening the situation of many people whose lives are difficult enough in the face of drought and ongoing food shortages. He went on to say that the north of the country is now entirely without state authorities.


Last updated 13.12.2012