Mali calls for “immediate withdrawal” of UN peacekeepers – Politics


Mali’s West African crisis-state military government is calling for the immediate withdrawal of the United Nations peacekeeping mission MINUSMA, which has been stationed in the country for a decade. Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused UN peacekeepers, including hundreds of Bundeswehr soldiers, of becoming “part of the problem” instead of reacting adequately to the security situation. “In this context, the Malian government calls for the immediate withdrawal of Minusma. However, the government is ready to work with the United Nations on this,” Diop said at the United Nations Security Council in New York on Friday.

Mali’s interim government under Colonel Assimi Go├»ta reiterated its “strategic” decision late Friday evening to call for MINUSMA to withdraw. It was “impossible to keep the peace in a situation where there is no peace to keep,” he said. He accused the United Nations mission of revoking the mandate to support the Malian authorities.

The military junta’s announcement came just before the long-awaited constitutional referendum in Mali on Sunday. Malian citizens are set to vote on a new constitution more than two years after the last military coup, in what is believed to be the first step towards presidential elections next March. The interim government is campaigning aggressively for the adoption of the draft, which, among other things, gives more power to the president.

The United Nations mission to stabilize the country has been active in Mali since 2013. At that time, following the collapse of neighboring Libya and the rebellion of nomadic Tuaregs in 2012, Islamic terrorists invaded the north of the country on the edge of the Sahara. A military intervention by the former French colonial power has pushed back the Islamists, some of them only temporarily allied with IS and al-Qaeda terrorist militias. Since then, terrorist groups have spread to northern and central Mali and neighboring countries.

Up to 2000 Russian Wagner mercenaries are active in Mali

The military seized power in two coups in 2020 and 2021 in the Sahel country with around 23 million inhabitants and turned to Russia, from which they promised more robust help against the Islamists. While the military junta speaks only of trainers, it is estimated that up to 2,000 Russian Wagnerian mercenaries are active in the country. France then concluded its military operation.

Germany wants to withdraw its soldiers by 31 May 2024. The Bundestag extended the mandate for the last time at the end of May. There are currently nearly 1,100 Bundeswehr soldiers in Mali. The activities of the Bundeswehr have recently been restricted again and again. For example, Bamako has refused to fly permits for the German-operated Heron reconnaissance drone on behalf of the United Nations.

The United Nations depends on the country’s consent to carry out a peacekeeping mission. Minusma’s mandate should have been extended by another year by the UN Security Council until 30 June. The UN Secretary-General’s head of mission and special envoy, El-Ghassim Wane, told the Security Council that MINUSMA had made every effort to implement its mandate in the best possible way despite the “many restrictions to which it is subject, including restrictions on freedom of movement”.

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