The CMA must therefore work with Malians in the South to declare that the agreement does not threaten to divide the country and that regionalization is a national reform and is not limited to the North. The southern regions can gain everything from a process of regionalization that would guarantee them a transfer of power and resources unprecedented in Mali`s history. This awareness could continue the work begun with the 2019 inclusive national dialogue, namely the start of talks between the CMA and civil society organizations in southern Mali. Local elected representatives and traditional authorities in the North should be involved in these information campaigns in the southern regions. International partners on the CSA Monitoring Committee, in particular MINUSMA, could contribute to the organization of this work. Without guaranteeing the success of the referendum, such a decision could still help reduce the pressure of the southern elites on the government that is delaying the implementation of the agreement. While they failed to achieve effective implementation of the agreement, international forces in Mali succeeded in discouraging the signatories from using force. However, their presence will not be permanent. As instability spreads in central Mali and beyond its borders, international actors such as Barkhane (a French counterterrorism operation in the Sahel) and MINUSMA are increasingly turning to other countries such as Burkina Faso and Niger.
In this vast region, the limited forces (5,100 Barkhane and 13,000 MINUSMA troops) cannot be present everywhere. How can the peace process move forward without jeopardizing progress towards stability? “A comprehensive and lasting peace agreement”, the reconstruction of national unity, the acceleration of development on all fronts and the restoration of security and governance in accordance with the geohistorical and socio-cultural particularities of the northern regions are some of the areas of the road map signed by the stakeholders in Algiers. 4. Each Party shall appoint, by written notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, two Commissioners within 45 days of the entry into force of this Agreement, none of whom shall be the national or permanent resident of the appointing Party. If a Party does not appoint one or both of its Commissioners appointed by it within the time limit, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall make such appointment. Although the fight against terrorism is attracting international attention, it is only one of the problems facing northern Mali today. Even if international and national forces succeed in eliminating or marginalizing the jihadists, the signatory parties would still demand a satisfactory response to their demands for territorial autonomy in the north, which would almost certainly derail the Malian peace process. The question of territorial and political autonomy – which arises for the fourth time since 1963 – is at the heart of the motivation to take up arms in this region. This is reflected in the provisions of the agreement on the implementation of effective regionalisation. In Niger, the state has allowed northern elites, including former members of armed groups, to participate fully in the administration of local administration.
These elites have thus become better integrated into political and institutional affairs at the national level. Mali could follow suit, solving a fundamental question: how to prevent people from joining armed groups and encourage military actors to participate in political and economic affairs? although it would be naïve to assume that arms and trade would disappear overnight. The most urgent objective is to ensure that these realities do not play into the hands of those who have warmongering agendas. Expectations must be realistic. No one should be satisfied with the current situation. At the same time, no one should exert pressure that could revive the violence, for example by holding an unsuccessful referendum or displacing the reconstituted army, which the signatory groups would find cumbersome. The parties must take prudent steps to achieve more effective implementation of the agreement. Given the reluctance of the various parties to fully implement the agreement, there is no magic solution to the problem. However, there are two main areas in which the peace process could receive new impetus: confidence in the peace process and the political will to implement it.
The withdrawal from the northern city of Menaka paves the way for saturday`s signing of the long-delayed, UN-backed peace agreement. Although stakeholders failed to implement the 2015 agreement, they pushed ad hoc agreements beyond the limits of the agreement. In October 2015 and again in 2017, the CMA and the Platform conducted a bottom-up reconciliation separate from the agreement and signed ceasefire agreements that reduced violent incidents between the groups. In January, France and the members of the G5 Sahel – Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania – announced the formation of the “Coalition for the Sahel”, which will focus on counter-terrorism and economic development issues in the region. And in February, after years of secret deals with elements of the JNIM, the Malian government officially announced that it was negotiating with the JNIM to negotiate a political solution to jihadist violence in northern and central Mali. The many peace negotiations and security operations outside the structure of the agreement are a tacit admission that the agreement simply does not work. “This agreement is not the solution to Mali`s problems. It won`t work and it won`t happen,” he added. Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, former head of the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, welcomed the CMA`s commitment to the agreement and called on Mali to ensure the implementation of the agreement. Therefore, it is crucial for southern Malians to strengthen their support for the process through the political elites and civil society organizations they are supposed to represent.
They played no role in the discussions that led to the signing of the agreement in 2015, and many reject a text that was negotiated without their contribution. The 2015 text gave the Malian government the task of providing information and raising public awareness of the content of the agreement, but as the Carter Center noted, the government has done little in this regard. There are now more public campaigns protesting against the peace agreement than for him. Awareness-raising initiatives have focused on people in the north, ignoring the fact that the agreement also applies to southern Mali, particularly through regionalization reform and the creation of a senate. The parties say they support the agreement five years after it was signed in June 2015, but its implementation has proved extremely difficult. The Carter Center – which was appointed as an independent observer in Mali at the end of 2017 – reports virtually no progress on this front: in 2017, 22% of the provisions of the agreement had entered into force, three years later, they were 23%. None of the five pillars of the agreement has been satisfactorily implemented […].