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Mali suspends all new UN peacekeeping rotations

#Mali #suspends #peacekeeping #rotations

Mali said Thursday it was suspending rotations of the UN peacekeeping mission on “national security” grounds in the latest complication in relations between the ruling junta and international partners.

Rotations of the MINUSMA mission are suspended, including those already planned, the foreign ministry in Bamako said.

The suspension will last until a meeting is held to facilitate “the coordination and regulation” of quota rotation, a statement said.

No details were given in the announcement as to the reasons for the move.

But it came four days after Mali arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers it later described as “mercenaries” intent on toppling the country’s military-led government.

Ivory Coast says the soldiers are called National Support Elements (NSE) – a UN procedure that allows peacekeeping contingents to use outside contractors for logistical tasks.

The soldiers, who were arrested after arriving at Bamako airport on a special plane, formed the eighth rotation under the program, according to Ivory Coast.

Mali’s statement on Thursday made no reference to the Ivorians’ arrests, nor did it give a date for talks to discuss the MINUSMA rotations.

But it assured the UN mission that Mali “will work diligently to create conditions conducive to the lifting of this suspension of rotation, which is an essential step in allowing deployed contingents to ensure the proper implementation of the mandate of the ensure MINUSMA”.

– ONE mission –

MINUSMA – the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali – was launched in 2013 to help one of the world’s poorest countries deal with a bloody jihadist campaign.

With around 12,200 soldiers and 1,700 police officers deployed from around 50 countries, it is one of the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping operations.

His mandate was extended by a year on June 29, although Mali “strongly opposed” requests to grant freedom of movement to human rights investigators with a mission.

On July 7, MINUSMA chief El-Ghassim Wane told a press conference that the mission needed the “support and cooperation of the Malian authorities” and called for “continuous dialogue” to resolve “misunderstandings.”

In mid-January, Mali suspended MINUSMA flight operations for several days after reorganizing the process for approving flights over conflict zones.

The suspension was lifted after “fruitful talks,” authorities said.

MINUSMA operates regular flights between Mali and neighboring countries for supply missions and to evacuate wounded combatants.

– French excerpt –

Meanwhile, France’s anti-jihadist mission Barkhane is expected to complete its withdrawal from Mali in the coming weeks after ties between Paris and Bamako broke down.

The junta has brought in Russians, who it says are military advisers but whom France says are paramilitaries of the controversial Wagner group.

In April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said about 300 civilians had been massacred in central Mali by Malian forces and suspected Russian militants in the past month.

The Malian military regime also spent the first half of 2022 under economic sanctions from its West African neighbors for failing to meet its timetable to restore civilian rule.

Mali experienced coups in August 2020 and May 2021, sparking a political crisis that coincides with an ongoing security crisis.

Jihadists joined a regional insurgency in northern Mali in 2012, then expanded their campaign into the center of the country and neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of civilians have died, more than two million have fled their homes, and economic damage is severe in countries that are among the world’s poorest.

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