UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Monday to extend the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali for a year and called for a long-term and detailed plan for it to hand over security responsibilities and leave the West African nation.
The resolution adopted by the 15-member council said the priority of the peacekeeping mission remains to support implementation of Mali’s 2015 peace agreement signed by three parties — the government, a coalition of groups called the Coordination of Movements of Azawad that includes ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs who seek autonomy in northern Mali, and a pro-government militia known as the Platform.
The resolution recognized “some progress" in the past six months but expressed impatience over delays in the full implementation of the agreement.
Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted mutinous soldiers to overthrow the president of a decade. The power vacuum that resulted led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led military intervention that ousted the jihadists from power in 2013.
But insurgents remain active in the West African nation, and Mali is also under threat from extremists affiliated with the Islamic State movement. The extremists have been moving from the arid north into the country’s more populated center since 2015, stoking animosity and deadly ethnic violence.
The resolution underlines “that lasting peace and security in the Sahel region will not be achieved without a combination of political, security and development efforts benefiting all regions of Mali.”
The Security Council extended the mandate of the 15,600-strong U.N. force until June 30, 2021, and urged signatories to the peace agreement to act on priorities by that date, including disarming and demobilizing armed groups and reintegrating them into the country’s reformed security forces. It also urged constitutional reform and other issues be settled so regional elections can be held.
The resolution urged Malian authorities to reestablish the government’s authority in central Mali by June 30, 2021, by deploying and making security forces fully operational, instituting basic social services and judicial bodies, and holding trials for individuals accused of massacres in 2019 and 2020 that killed hundreds of civilians.
The Security Council asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to coordinate with others on a long-term road map assessing the situation in Mali focused on producing benchmarks and conditions, including progress in implementing the peace agreement.
The council said the map expected by March 31, 2021, would open the way for the mission to exit Mali without jeopardizing its security.