UN envoy urges donors to provide 'peace dividend' for Mali

AP News
Posted: Jun 23, 2015 4:50 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. envoy for Mali urged international donors and financial institutions on Tuesday to quickly authorize funds to provide Malians with water, electricity and schools as a "peace dividend" from the recently signed peace agreement.

Mongi Hamdi told the U.N. Security Council that the coming weeks and months will be critical to produce concrete results from the peace agreement which was signed by the last holdout, the main coalition of Tuareg separatist rebels, on June 20.

The Tuareg rebellion in Mali's far north has been a source of conflict with the government for decades, and violence has continued in this volatile West African country despite the peace talks.

A 2012 Tuareg uprising was blamed for prompting mutinous soldiers to overthrow the president of a decade, creating a power vacuum that ultimately led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led war against the jihadis.

Despite the peace agreement, "the security situation remains fragile," Hamdi said, and recent cease-fire violations and clashes "are a stark reminder of the complexity and unpredictability of the security environment in the northern regions."

Last week, the Mali force commander said constant rebel threats and sporadic attacks have killed 36 U.N. soldiers and injured over 200 since 2013, the highest casualty toll in the 16 U.N. missions.

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended in his latest report that the council add 40 military observers to the 11,200-strong Mali force to monitor cease-fire violations. He suggested that the council consider sanctions against violators.

Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told the council that implementing the peace agreement is "the most crucial step," and stressed that it must be "a Malian-led process."

He called on the council to review the possibility of authorizing a rapid reaction force from the nearby region which would allow Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Algeria and others "to establish a lasting response to terrorism."