The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, says Mali needs sustained and coherent support from the international community to overcome the current crisis in the country.
He spoke on Saturday in New York while declaring open a high-level meeting on the Malian Political Process.
”We must speak with one voice and we must be persistent during the negotiations, as well as afterwards for the implementation of an agreement,” Mr. Ki-Moon said.
”Mali needs peace and stability so that refugees can return home; so that human rights can be protected, and public services restored; so that development can advance and justice and security institutions can be reformed to play their essential role.
”In the north of the country, clashes involving armed groups have continued in spite of numerous agreements.
”I call on these groups to halt all violence and abide by their commitments to resolve their differences through dialogue.
”At the same time, terrorists have continued their attacks against UN peacekeepers and Malian civilians.
”They have fired rockets towards UN camps, laid mines on roads and launched suicide attacks against blue helmets.
”They seek to disrupt the political process and prevent the return of normalcy that the north so desperately needs,” he said.
Mr. Ki-Moon, who condemned the attacks, called on all Malian parties to work together to contain these attacks and to bring those responsible to justice.
”These attacks will not alter the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian people in their search for peace,” he said. ”Persistent insecurity only underscores the urgency of a negotiated settlement.”
Fifteen months ago, he said, the government of Mali and several armed groups signed a preliminary agreement in Ouagadougou that charted the way forward.
Since then, there have been difficult moments.
”The fighting in Kidal last May was one of them; and there have been hopeful occasions, such as the signing of a roadmap for the talks in Algiers in July.
”Negotiations are taking place in Algiers as I speak; in spite of an encouraging start, progress has been slow.
”We must also continue working together on a regional basis.
”As I noted during my visit to the Sahel region last year, cooperation across regions and institutions is essential to address the [transnational] challenges related to governance, security and resilience.
”I count on the continuous leadership of Mali, as Chair of the Coordination Platform for the Sahel, to ensure concerted efforts against instability and fragility in the region.
‘”Through the implementation of the Sahel Strategy, the United Nations looks forward to working with all its partners in a coordinated fashion for the good of the region,” he told leaders attending the meeting.