The African nation’s ruling military junta called for the withdrawal of the contingent, claiming it only fueled tensions
The United Nations has announced it is withdrawing its peacekeeping mission from the West African nation of Mali. Over the past year, relations between the authorities in Bamako and the international organization have soured, with Malian officials alleging that the UN presence only serves to further aggravate intercommunity tensions.
In an article published on Friday, the UN said that the Security Council members expressed support for the termination of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). All security responsibilities will be transferred to the ruling military junta.
Having begun on Saturday, the pullout will be incremental and is expected to be finalized by January 1, 2024.
According to the UN, the remaining troops will be authorized to “respond with force to imminent threats of violence to civilians,” as well as to assist in the delivery of humanitarian assistance until September 30.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the parties to the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali “to continue honoring the ceasefire as MINUSMA withdraws.”
The official also stressed that the UN will continue to cooperate with Mali’s transitional government after the peacekeepers leave.
Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, pledged to provide Bamako with support as well, including on a bilateral basis.
Last month, Malian authorities called on the UN to end its peacekeeping mission “without delay.” Addressing the UN Security Council, the country’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop claimed that “MINUSMA seems to have become a part of the problem in fueling inter-community tensions.”
Relations between Mali’s interim military government and the UN have been on a downward spiral over the past year. Last July, Bamako suspended troop rotations under MINUSMA shortly after arresting 49 soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire, whom they described as “mercenaries.” A month later, the Malian authorities expelled MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado.
Mali has been suffering from political instability for years, with two separate coups in 2020 and 2021 and an ongoing jihadist insurgency in the country’s rural northern region. The 2012 Tuareg uprising led to the formation of the UN mission, which ultimately swelled to more than 15,000 foreign troops. Since then, 303 peacekeepers have been killed in action.
In 2014, France deployed a separate security mission to fight insurgents. However, Paris pulled its forces out last year as relations between Paris and Bamako soured.
July 01, 2023 at 04:35PM