Mali asking UN support in fight against drug traffickers

It is reported that Mali’s foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop asked the UN Security Council to support the government in the fight against drug traffickers and roll out an emergency aid package following the signing of a peace deal. At a meeting in Bamako the government an armed groups signed an accord to end the violence in the north of the country.

“This will be a first test for the agreement,” Diop said as the council prepares to vote next week on renewing the mandate of the 11 500-strong MINUSMA force.

The foreign minister called for a major anti-drug effort to put an end to the trafficking fuelling 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 fuelling all sides in this conflict,” Diop said. He was supported by the UN envoy to Mali, Mongi Hamdi, who said that the people were looking forward to a peace dividend.

It is not clear what to expect from the deal as the largely Tuareg based Azawad movement is not a party to the deal. Security experts believe that revenue from drugs smuggling is financing rebel groups throughout the region. While some of these are allied with al-Qaeda others are motivated by grievances owing to being excluded from development benefits and having little representation in the government.