Mali has asked the United Nations to take on drug traffickers and roll out an emergency aid package after a peace deal was signed to end violence in the north. Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop last Tuesday told the Security Council that the UN peacekeeping force must help restore state authority in the north after an Islamist takeover in 2012 plunged the country into turmoil.
“This will be a first test for the agreement,” Diop said as the council prepares to vote The foreign minister called for a major anti-drug effort to put an end to the trafficking fueling conflict in northern Mali and stressed that peace would not take hold without such a campaign. “We will never achieve a definite settlement for this crisis without this initiative because drugs are fueling all sides in this conflict,” Diop said. Revenue from drugs smuggling has helped rebel groups throughout the region, some of whom are allied with Al- Qaeda, to buy weapons and FINANCE their offensives.
The 15-member council was meeting to discuss ways to cement gains made in northern Mali after a Tuareg-led rebel alliance at the weekend finally signed a peace accord agreed several months ago. The accord had been signed in May by the Bamako government and the coalition of armed groups supporting it, but the holdout Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) had balked at the deal.
The deal is aimed at ending conflict in the north that led to an Islamist takeover in 2012 that finally ended when French troops were deployed amid fears that the insurgency could reach Bamako. The UN envoy for Mali, Tunisian Mongi Hamdi, told the council that the coming months would be critical for northern Mali and called on international financial institutions to quickly unlock funds.