Mali lobbies Rwanda on UN peacekeeping mission

MALI’S FOREIGN Affairs minister Tieman Coulibaly has appealed to Rwanda to use her influence at the United Nations (UN) to push for a resolution that would put international troops helping Mali to restore peace under the direct command of the UN.
Coulibaly and Mushikiwabo adress the media In Kigali yesterday. Coulibaly was in the country for a one-day visit The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.
Coulibaly and Mushikiwabo adress the media In Kigali yesterday. Coulibaly was in the country for a one-day visit The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.

MALI’S FOREIGN Affairs minister Tieman Coulibaly has appealed to Rwanda to use her influence at the United Nations (UN) to push for a resolution that would put international troops helping Mali to restore peace under the direct command of the UN.

Minister Coulibaly, who was on a one-day working visit to Rwanda yesterday, held talks with Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, and conveyed his government’s wish that the UN’s Security Council (UNSC) adopt a resolution to turn the current African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) into a fully-fledged UN peace-keeping mission.

“It was necessary that I come to Kigali,” Coulibaly said during a news briefing that he and his Rwandan counterpart held at the latter’s office. “I think that the political contribution of Rwanda is extremely important. The contribution of Rwanda in exchanging experience and information is extremely important.”

In reference to the current effort to raise US$460 million to finance AFISMA as “slow”,  Coulibaly explained that placing the mission under a UN command would help it acquire the much needed logistical support to be able to bring back peace in the northern part of the country.

“When you take it to the money it’s always difficult. That’s one of the reasons that prompted us to ask for the transformation of AFISMA into a UN peace-keeping operation, we want to obtain peace and then keep it because if you don’t have peace you will have nothing to keep,” he said.

A 10,000-strong international force, including around 4,000 French soldiers and 6,000 AFISMA troops is currently operating in Mali but the French are scheduled to pull out of the mission next month, leaving the peace-keeping task in the hands of AFISMA and the Malian army.

Rwanda, which assumed its seat at the UNSC as a non-permanent member in January, will assume the presidency of the council next month as part of the routine one-month tenure of each of the 15-member countries.

Kigali assurance


Mushikiwabo assured Coulibaly that Rwanda will strive to be a “voice” for Mali and will use her experience in post-war management and her UN seat to advise accordingly.

“It’s perhaps on the political front where Rwanda can contribute more, especially with its presidency of the Security Council in April,” Mushikiwabo said. “Rwanda would like to be a voice for Mali at the Security Council.”

Rwanda currently chairs two subsidiary organs of the UNSC; the committee established to enforce sanctions of arms embargo, travel ban, and assets freeze imposed on Libya, as well as an ad hoc working group on prevention of conflicts in Africa.

Minister Coulibaly also said he carried a message to congratulate President Kagame for his work for Rwanda and Africa.

In a call for Africa’s solidarity with the government and people of Mali, during the AU Summit last month, President Kagame urged fellow African leaders to do more with actions rather than just words.

“As Africans, we need to do more. And doing more today is to significantly contribute to the funding and logistical requirements of AFISMA, as well as of the Malian Defense and Security Forces,” Kagame said at the AU meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January.

The Malian government is fighting Islamist militants in the northern part of the country who are linked to al Qaeda, an international terrorist network. AFISMA was mandated by the UN’s resolution 2085 late last December for an initial period of one year to support the Malian government.

ICTR convicts

On reports that Genocide convicts incarcerated in Mali were living a lavish life, Coulibaly promised to look into the allegations.

Reports emerged last December that the convicts who were sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and transferred to Mali were running businesses in the country’s capital, Bamako and had special helpers who are not part of the prison arrangement working for them in their cells.

“I heard that and I told my sister (Mushikiwabo) that this will be my personal task to get things back where they must be,” he said.

“Mali is committed through international law to receive these prisoners but they are prisoners not businessmen. If it’s proved true, we will do what we must do to get them back in prison where they must stay.”

Coulibaly said the issue came up during his meeting with Mushikiwabo.

ICTR transferred six Rwandan Genocide convicts to Mali in 2001. They include Jean Kambanda, a former prime minister and head of the genocidal government in 1994, Jean-Paul Akayesu, former mayor of Taba and Clement Kayishema, a medical doctor, who was governor of the then Kibuye Prefecture, Northern Province.

Others are Obed Ruzindana, a businessman, Omar Serushago, a leader of the “Interahamwe” militia, and Alfred Musema, former director of the tea factory in Gisovu.

Mali is one of the countries that have signed agreements with the UN to host persons convicted by the Arusha-based tribunal.

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