U.N. urges Mali government to hold elections in July

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix

The United Nations peacekeeping chief has urged the Malian government to do everything to ensure a presidential election scheduled for mid-July is held successfully.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the Security Council that last week’s adoption of a timeline for the government, Tuareg separatists and armed groups to implement a June 2015 peace agreement by the end of March was an important step.

He said this would lead to progress on a host of issues, including reform of the security sector and establishing security conditions for the presidential vote as well as local and regional elections in April.

“It’s urgent that we confront the fact that we’re racing against time in Mali”,  Lacroix said. “We are confronting increasing insecurity which has cost the lives, unfortunately, of hundreds of civilians in the north and center of the country as well as dozens of elements of defense forces”.

According to the peacekeeping chief, 4.1 million Malians – accounting for 22 per cent of the West African nation’s population – will be food insecure this year.

“The goal needs to be to create conditions that would lead to elections, and beyond that pursuit of the peace process”, he said.

Mali’s Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulubaly said the government is committed to progress which he said “has contributed to the progressive restoration of peace and security in our country.”

However, he said, “time is running short,” and the government is determined to accelerate implementation of the peace agreement.