The Malian crisis degenerated into an open violent conflict in January 2012 with an insurrection launched by the northern-based rebel National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in the North, followed in March 2012 by a military coup in the capital Bamako. Composed mostly of Tuaregs, but also numerous Arabs and several Songhaï from Northern Mali, the MNLA was quickly joined, then overtaken by terrorist-classified armed groups, such as Al Qaida in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Unity of Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) and the Malian islamist armed group Ansar Dine, led by the Tuareg Iyad Ag Ghali, former chief of 1990s’ rebellions in northern Mali. The French military intervention Serval, launched in January 2013 with the support of the international community and a resolution of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), successfully put an end to the control of northern Mali by terrorist-classified armed groups. It also paved the way for a return to constitutional order in Mali, already supervised by the ECOWAS, and for the opening of negotiations between Malian transitional authorities and armed groups from northern Mali in Ouagadougou. The provisional Ouagadougou Agreement was signed in June 2013 between the Malian transitional government and the armed movements MNLA and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA). It was later joined by the Arab Movement of Azawad, or Arab Armed Movement (MAA) and the Coalitions of Patriotic Movements and Fronts of Resistance (CMFPR). It allowed presidential elections to take place in Summer 2013 across the country.

Following a significant lull in the implementation of the Preliminary Agreement since October 2013, a routing of the Malian army in Kidal in May 2014 triggered a relaunch of negotiations under the auspice of an international mediation led by Algeria. Negotiations led in Algiers resulted in the signature of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement between the Malian government and the Plateforme in May 2015, followed by the CMA’s signature on June 20 in Bamako. The Agreement entails measures to be settled on political and institutional matters, on security and defence, on economic development, and on judiciary and humanitarian aspects, including the return of refugees and the establishment of a Commission for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation.

Eighteen months after the signature of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, serious challenges remain for the Malian government and the other parties, with the support of international actors, to ensure a durable peace in Mali and foster stabilization in the Sahel region. Positive steps rapidly followed the Agreement’s signature, including the setting up and meetings of the Agreement Monitoring Committee (CSA), and of the Technical Committee for Security (CTS), the creation of the regions of Taoudenni and Menaka, the adoptions of several laws and decrees, and the signature of an “Entente” regarding the set-up of interim authorities and the redeployment of the administration in the North. Yet major challenges linked to institutional aspects and security and defence issues remain to be tackled and implemented, while populations still face insecurity, food shortage and lack of basic services and reconciliation efforts in large parts of the north. An inclusive organization of the DDRRR process linked to a security and military sector reform has yet to be initiated. Terrorist-classified armed groups are still threatening the peace process, attacking civilians and members of the Minusma deployed in the north on a regular basis. They seem to recompose and strengthen in parts of the regions of Timbuktu, Kidal, Gao and Menaka, but also in the regions of Mopti and Segou since early 2015. Indeed, insecurity and armed violence against representatives of national authorities have developed in the centre of the country, as well as intra- and inter-community violence, in the region of Mopti and parts of the region of Segou, demonstrating how fragile the State remains and how risks of further destabilization require continual determined and supportive action.

Promediation’s action

Since June 2014, with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs support, Promediation has implemented a program to support the mediation efforts of the international community towards achieving durable peace in Mali and complement stabilization efforts in the Sahel. Promediation’s action targets all parties of the peace process, including the government, the two coalitions of armed movements, and the international and civil society leaders involved in contributing to the peace process. Promediation’s added value and capacity to supplement international action relies on trustful relations built with the leadership all parties and a deep understanding of dynamics at local, national and regional levels.
Since June 2014, Promediation participated in preparing the parties for negotiation phases, working closely with international mediation (through workshops, strategic meetings, back channelling and public events between July 2014 and June 2015). Promediation also facilitated contacts between the government and armed movements leadership to de-escalate military crises (Anefis, Menaka). After the signing of the Peace Agreement in May and June 2015, Promediation focused on building parties’ capacity to implement the first steps of the Agreement, through regular meetings between leaderships of the parties, especially between the two coalitions of signatory armed movements, providing professional expertise and facilitation of dialogue as well as methodological support. Promediation also provided several times neutral spaces for and facilitated dialogue allowing the three parties, and the Minusma, to discuss various core topics of the Agreement, including the DDR process (April 2016) and the judiciary aspects of the Agreement (August 2016). Promediation’s action also focused on the inclusivity and understanding of the Agreement at the local level in the north of the country to generate support to its implementation. In January 2016, it jointly organized with MINUSMA, the EU-funded program PAIR, and Malian parties a regional meeting in Timbuktu to allow for concertation between national and regional leaders on future steps of the Agreement’s implementation. Promediation’s action also served to mitigate any risks of derailing of the process by potential spoilers, including by alerting international stakeholders of imminent risks and sharing mitigation measures.
Since early 2015, Promediation was also asked by a gathering of Fulani youth associations to support dialogue efforts and prevent extensions of violence and instability in central Mali. Promediation facilitated meetings and dialogue among Fulani leaders, developed contacts with local actors, and analysed opportunities for supporting national authorities in engaging in different forms of dialogue in order to supplement security measures.