President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
New York, US – The new President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on Friday warned that terrorist and rebel groups chased out of Mali earlier this year now pose a serious threat to peace and stability in the whole of sub-Saharan region.
He therefore called for full international support to counter the cross-border scourge.
Mr. Keita, who spoke at the UN General Assembly in New York, reported that Mali is now on the rebound thanks to UN and international efforts to restore order following a military coup d’etat, fighting with Tuareg rebels and the seizure of its northern territory by radical Islamists during the past two years.
He also thanked France, Morocco and Chad who sent troops or otherwise supported the campaign to eliminate, what he called the “Jihadist terrorist aggression” from Mali.
“But, despite the hopes raised by these various operations, the displacement of small terrorist and rebel groups to other neighbouring countries represents a serious threat for the stability and territorial integrity of Mali and for peace and security in the region,” he warned.
The Malian leader said: “Mali under my leadership is resolutely determined to strive for strengthening existing sub-regional mechanisms for cooperation to checkmate the rebel groups.”
“Likewise, full support from the international community will prove indispensable in the battle against transnational terrorism in the Sahel (sub-Saharan region).
“The stakes are enormous and the terrorist threat is assuming worrying proportions, to the point that no country is protected from violent and barbarous acts,” Mr. Keita noted.
He also cited the recent deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, by Somali militants as a case in point.
He said the problems afflicting Mali are “symptomatic of the challenges confronting all the countries in the Sahel region”.
The president identified the problems to include “the worst forms of organized cross-border crimes, trafficking in drugs, human beings and all kinds of arms, some of them very sophisticated weapons pouring in from Libyan arsenals after the fall of regime there”.
On other matters, Mr. Keita welcomed the theme of this year’s 68th UN General Assembly – “The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage!”, which seeks to draw up an even more ambitious blueprint to totally eliminate poverty and its attendant ills in the decades following the end in 2015 of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cycle.
He announced that his country will hold two rounds of legislative elections before the end of the year, the first will be on 24 November and the second on 15 December.
He also called for UN reform, including enlargement of the UN Security Council, whose resolutions alone are mandatory, and greater empowerment of the 193-member UN General Assembly, whose decisions do not have legal force.