Mali expels UN peacekeeping mission spokesperson | News | DW
Malian authorities on Wednesday ordered Olivier Salgado, the spokesperson for the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, to leave the country within 72 hours.
This decision comes after the military government of Mali ordered the temporary suspension of troop rotations by MINUSMA.
Mali has been at odds with its neighbors since the army seized power in August 2020. The recent arrest of Ivorian soldiers has further heightened tensions between Mali and its neighbor Côte d’Ivoire.
Why is Mali expelling the MINUSMA spokesperson?
Mali claimed that the 49 Ivorian soldiers were “mercenaries” who sought to overthrow the country’s junta.
They were arrested after arriving at Bamako airport on a special flight.
In turn, Salgado said the soldiers worked for a German company under contract with MINUSMA.
A statement from Mali’s foreign ministry said the expulsion was due to social media posts.
“This measure follows the series of contentious and unacceptable publications by the person assigned to social networks declaring, without any proof, that the Malian authorities were informed in advance of the arrival of 49 Ivorian soldiers,” the ministry said.
The UN, meanwhile, said it “deeply regrets” the requested departure of Olivier Salgado, MINUSMA’s deputy communications director.
“It is important to note that the doctrine of persona non grata does not apply to United Nations personnel,” deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.
What is Minusma?
MINUSMA, or the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, was created in 2013 to help the West African nation deal with a bloody jihadist campaign.
Mali is battling an Islamist insurgency that emerged after an uprising in 2012 and has since spread to neighboring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions in West Africa’s Sahel region.
A jihadist campaign that began in northern Mali in 2012 then spread to Niger and Burkina Faso
MINUSMA is one of the largest UN peacekeeping operations. According to the mission’s website, it has 17,609 troops, police, civilians and volunteers deployed as of April this year.
But it is also one of the most dangerous operations, with dozens of casualties among MINUSMA personnel reported each year.
Egypt, the largest troop contributor to MINUSMA, said last week that it would “temporarily suspend” its participation in operations after the deaths of seven of its soldiers this year.
France and Germany have been involved in MINUSMA. However, Paris announced earlier this year that it would withdraw its troops.
Berlin, on the other hand, should increase German participation in MINUSMA.
The EU is also involved in two training missions in Mali – EUTM and EUCAP – alongside MINUSMA, but the bloc is reducing its operations due to continued cooperation between Russian mercenaries and the Malian junta.
fb/dj (AFP, AP, Reuters)