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1.  The Support and Follow up Group on the situation in Mali, established by the Peace and Security Council  (PSC) of  the African Union  (AU), at  its 314th meeting, convened at ministerial level, in Bamako, on 20 March 2012, held its inaugural meeting in Abidjan, on 7 June 2012. 

2.  The meeting, organized under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the AU and the United Nations, was chaired by Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the  AU  Commission.  The  meeting  brought  together  the  ECOWAS Member  States,  the  core countries, the current Chair of the AU, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council  and  AU  Member  States  sitting  on  this  body,  as  well  as  bilateral  and  multilateral partners. The full list of participants is attached, as annex.

 

3.  The participants expressed their serious concern over the situation obtaining in Mali. In this regard, they noted the growing grip of the armed, terrorist and criminal groups operating in the northern part of Mali,  the  increasing  linkages between  terrorist and criminal networks, as well as  the violations of human  rights  there and  the dire humanitarian situation prevailing on the ground.

 

4.  The participants also noted the continuing fragility of the institutions established within the  framework  of  the  process  for  the  restoration  of  constitutional  order,  following  the  coup d’état  of  22 March  2012,  as  evidenced  by  the physical  assault  on  the  Interim  President, Mr. Dioncounda  Traoré,  and  the  persistence  of  impediments  to  the  action  of  the  Transitional Institutions.

 

5.  The participants noted that the current situation in Mali, which calls into question basic principles of the AU, namely respect for the unity and territorial integrity of Member States, as well  the  rejection  of  unconstitutional  changes  of  government,  terrorism  and  cross-border crimes, constitutes a serious threat to the viability of the State of Mali, the stability and security f the region and that of the continent as a whole, as well as to international security.

 

6.  In  this  context,  the  participants  stressed  the  imperative  and  urgency  of  a  closely-coordinated,  rapid  and  efficient  international  action  to  take  up  the  challenges  at  hand.  This action must be based on the pooling of regional and continental efforts, within the framework of  the  AU,  and  close  partnership  with  the  United  Nations  and  other  members  of  the international community. 

 

7.  In conformity with the mandate given to  it by the PSC, the Group considered both the institutional crisis and the security and humanitarian situation in northern of Mali. 

 

8.  Regarding  the  institutional  crisis,  the  participants welcomed  the  efforts made by  the President of  the  Faso, within  the  framework of  the mediation entrusted  to him by  ECOWAS. They noted, with satisfaction, the results achieved which made  it possible,  in accordance with the Framework Agreement of 6 April 2012, to establish the various  institutions responsible for the management of the Transition. 

 

9.  The  participants  encouraged  the  Government,  the  political  forces  and  civil  society, including  the  representatives  of  the  northern  regions, within  the  framework  of  an  inclusive national dialogue and the functioning of the constitutional institutions of the country, to quickly develop, with  the  support of ECOWAS, a  roadmap  stating  the various  tasks  to be  carried out during  the  Transition,  so  as  to  attain  the  objectives  set,  namely  the  reorganization  and restructuring of the defense and security forces, the restoration of State authority throughout the  territory  of Mali  and  the  organization  of  free,  transparent  and  fair  elections, within  the agreed period of 12 months. They also encouraged the Transitional Institutions to fully assume their  responsibilities.  They  expressed  the  readiness  of  their  respective  organizations  and countries  to  support  the  Transitional  Institutions  and  to mobilize  the necessary  financial  and other forms of necessary support.

 

10.  In this context, the participants stressed the need for close and continued cooperation between  the  Government  and  the  different  political  actors  and  civil  society  in Mali,  on  the various challenges faced by the country. In so doing, the objective is to form an all-inclusive and more representative Government, in order to build the broadest consensus possible that would allow Mali  to  overcome  the  daunting  challenges  that  it  is  currently  facing.  They  urged  the different national stakeholders to take all necessary  initiatives to this end, taking  into account the ECOWAS mediation, with the support of the AU and the United Nations. 

 

11.  The participants reaffirmed the need to establish the necessary conditions to enable the Transitional  Institutions  to  fully  exercise  their  responsibilities,  in  conditions  of  security  and without any interference by the military junta and its civilian supporters, as well as the need for the  scrupulous  respect  for  fundamental  freedoms.  After  having  strongly  condemned  the unacceptable physical assault against the Interim President, the participants:

 

(i)  demanded  the  rapid  identification  of  all  the  perpetrators  and  sponsors  of  this assault, for them to be brought to justice, without prejudice to actions that could be initiated by the relevant international mechanisms;

 

(ii)  demanded  that  the  military  junta  (the  National  Council  for  the  Recovery  of Democracy  and  the  Restoration  of  the  State  –  CNRDRE,  be  immediately  dissolved and  pull  out  from  the management  of  the  Transition,  and  that  the  armed  forces focus exclusively, under the authority of the Interim President and the Government, on their primary task of preserving and defending the unity and territorial  integrity of Mali;

 

(iii)  expressed  the  determination  of  their  respective  organizations  and  countries  to impose  and  to  scrupulously  implement  sanctions  against  all  military  and  civilian elements who,  in one way or another, hinder  the Transition and  the action of  the  Government,  fuel hatred or perpetrate acts of violence and  intimidation,  including arbitrary arrests. They called upon ECOWAS, the AU and the UN to start preparing a list  of  the  individuals  concerned, with  the  support  of  the  different  countries  and organizations members  of  the  Support  and  Follow  up Group.  In  addition  to  these sanctions,  the  appropriate  international  mechanisms  could  also  be  seized  of  the matter; and 

 

(iv)  requested  ECOWAS, with  the  support  of  the  AU,  the  UN  and  other  international partners,  to  take  the necessary  steps  to  ensure  the  security of  the officials of  the Transition,  in  particular  the  Interim  President.  In  this  regard,  the  participants encouraged  the Transitional Government  to unconditionally extend  to ECOWAS all the necessary cooperation.

 

12.  As  regards  the  situation  in  the northern part of Mali,  the participants  reiterated  the strong condemnation by the  international community of the armed attacks against the Malian State  and  the  unacceptable  and  dangerous  presence  of  terrorist  and  criminal  groups  in  that region of the country. They emphasized the danger that recourse to armed rebellion posed to the viability of African states and to the democratization processes on the continent, as well as the serious threat posed by the entrenchment of terrorist and criminal groups  in the northern part of Mali, for that country, the region and the rest of the international community. 

 

13.  The participants  condemned  the  violations of human  rights and abuses  committed by the  armed  and  terrorist  groups  operating  in  northern  of Mali.  In  particular,  they  expressed oncern  about  the  humanitarian  situation  in  the  region,  as well  as  the  burden  borne  by  the countries  hosting  a  large  number  of  Malian  refugees,  particularly  Algeria,  Burkina  Faso, Mauritania and Niger. They requested the humanitarian agencies working in the field to pursue their efforts.  With regard particularly to the delivery of humanitarian aid in northern Mali, the participants stressed the need to spare no efforts to ensure that the aid destined to the Malian civilian population is not diverted by the armed and terrorist groups occupying that part of the Malian territory. 

 

14.  The participants stressed that any solution to the crisis in northern Mali should be based on the following principles:

 

(i)  the scrupulous respect for the unity and territorial integrity of Mali, which cannot be the subject of any discussion or negotiation;

 

(ii)  the  rejection  of  the  recourse  to  armed  rebellion,  which  cannot  be  justified,especially  in  the context of  the existing channels of expression  in Mali which allow for the peaceful pursuit of any legitimate claim; and

 

(iii)  the  implacable struggle against  the  terrorist and criminal networks, which must be neutralized by all possible legitimate means.

 

15.  On  this basis,  the participants expressed  the  support of  their  respective organizations and  countries  to all efforts aimed at peacefully addressing, by peaceful means,  the  causes of the  recurring  rebellions  in northern Mali. Dialogue with groups willing  to negotiate  should be based on the respect for the unity and territorial integrity of Mali, as well as the total rejection of  terrorism  and  related  criminal  activities.  The  participants  affirmed  their  support  for  the continuation  of  the  ECOWAS  mediation,  with  the  involvement  of  the  core  countries,  in accordance  with  the  decision  taken  by  the  AUPSC  on  20  March  2012,  in  Bamako.  The participants  stressed  the  need  to  obtain  from  the  groups  concerned  the  acceptance  of  the above-mentioned principles and to conclude the negotiations, as soon as possible, failing which other options, including the use of force, would be considered. 

 

16.  At  the  same  time,  the  participants  recognized  the  need  to  mobilize  all  appropriate means,  including military,  to  help  the Malian  Government  to  reorganize  and  restructure  its defense and security forces, and support its efforts to restore, in the shortest possible time, its authority  over  the  northern  part  of  the  country,  as  well  as  fight  the  terrorist  and  criminal groups and other entities whose actions undermine stability and security in Mali and the whole region.  They  welcomed  the  initiative  taken  by  ECOWAS  to  activate  its  standby  force,  and recognized  the  important  contribution  that  could  be made  by  the  AU,  through  the  African Centre  for  the  Study  and  Research  on  Terrorism  (ACSRT),  the  core  countries,  through  the structures they had already established, including the Fusion and Liaison Unit in Algiers and the Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CEMOC) in Tamanrasset.  

 

17.  The participants affirmed the willingness of their respective organizations and countries to  provide  financial,  logistical  and  other  support  to  such  efforts.  They  also  affirmed  their willingness  to work  for  the speedy mobilization of adequate support  from  the United Nations on the basis of a formal request, accompanied by a specific mandate and concept of operations, submitted  through  the  AU.  In  this  regard,  they  urged  the  AUPSC  to  convene,  as  soon  as possible, to take the decisions it would deem appropriate, in order to mobilize the international community, particularly the Security Council of the United Nations, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, in support of the efforts of the continent. 

 

18.  More  generally,  the  participants  reaffirmed  the  need  for  a  regional  and  long-term approach  to  address  the  structural  problems  facing  the  Sahel  region.  In  this  respect,  they stressed  the  relevance  of  the  recommendations  endorsed  by  the  PSC ministerial meeting  in Bamako and the importance of the Strategy developed by the European Union. 

 

19.  The  participants  expressed  their  support  for  the  Conference  on Drought  in  the  Sahel that the AU and ECOWAS intend to organize at the end of June 2012, on the margins of the next ECOWAS  Summit,  in  Yamoussoukro.  They  called  upon  the  international  community  to  fully support the initiative.

 

20.  On  the  follow  up  to  the  Conclusions  of  this  meeting,  the  participants  agreed  to:

 

(i)  meet, at  least once every  two months, under  the auspices of ECOWAS,  the AU and  the  United  Nations,  as  a  consultation  and  coordination  structure  on  the situation in Mali,  in its dual aspects of the institutional crisis and the situation in the north, in order to facilitate an effective international action in support of the African efforts;

 

(ii)  recommend to the AU and ECOWAS to send a delegation comprising, in addition to  these  two  organizations,  the  United  Nations  and  the  European  Union  to deliver  the message  of  the  inaugural meeting   of  the  Support  and  Follow  up Group  to  all  the Malian  stakeholders,  in  support  of  the mediation  of  ECOWAS and the efforts to restore the authority of the State over the northern part of the country;

 

(iii)  convene,  at  the  initiative  of  the  co-chairs,  in-between  the  regular meetings  of the Group, restricted meetings based on issues to be considered, in Addis Ababa or any other  venue agreed  to by  the  co-chairs,  to  follow up  these Conclusions and submit recommendations on the way forward; and

 

(iv)  request the AUPSC to meet, as soon as possible, to discuss the situation in Mali, particularly  in  the  light  of  these  Conclusions,  for  the  purpose  of  formally requesting the support of the UN Security Council.

 

21.  The participants thanked ECOWAS, the AU and the United Nations for having taken the initiative of organizing this meeting. They expressed their gratitude to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for having accepted to host the meeting and for its generous hospitality, and to UNOCI for all logistical arrangements it made. 

Posted by Lulit Kebede
Last updated by Abraham Kebede

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