Mali suspends all new rotations of UN peacekeeping forces | News

Bamako says it is suspending UN peacekeeping rotations for “national security reasons” as relations between Mali and the UN deteriorate.

The Malian Foreign Ministry has asked the UN mission in Mali to suspend all flights scheduled to rotate peacekeeping forces days after the West African nation detained 49 soldiers off the Ivory Coast who it said had arrived in the country without permission.

“For reasons related to the national security context, the Malian government has decided to suspend today all rotations of the military and police contingent of [the UN Mission to Mali]including those already planned or announced, ”the State Department said Thursday in a letter to the UN mission and seen by the Associated Press.

The ministry said it hoped to meet with UN representatives to find “an optimal plan that would facilitate the coordination and regulation of the rotation of quotas operating within [the UN mission]”.

UN Mission spokesman Olivier Salgado acknowledged the letter, saying his organization was ready for immediate discussion with Malian authorities.

“The rotation of the mission’s contingents is crucial to its operational efficiency and the morale of its uniformed personnel,” Salgado said.

“Everything must be done for its urgent solution, especially since some of the affected employees should have been replaced several months ago,” he added.

Mali’s ruling military government, which seized power in a coup in August 2020, has repeatedly clashed with many of its traditional partners following sanctions against Bamako, condemnation of election delays and Mali’s growing security cooperation with the Russian mercenary Wagner group.

When the UN Security Council renewed the UN mission in Mali’s mandate last month, the Malian authorities promised to defy UN calls to allow freedom of movement for peacekeepers to investigate human rights violations.

‘Mercenaries’

Tensions have been high between Mali and the UN since Sunday, when 49 Côte d’Ivoire soldiers, including members of the special forces, were detained by Malian authorities.

Mali said the Ivorian soldiers did not have the proper permission to come to Mali and accused them of being mercenaries.

Ivory Coast has called for the immediate release of the soldiers, saying all agreed communications were made for their arrival in the country during the UN mission.

On Monday, Malian authorities said they had received “four different versions” as to why Ivorian troops were in the country.

Ivory Coast said troops were sent to Mali to play a supportive role for the UN peacekeeping mission and should be released without delay.

Malian officials said their case has been referred to forensic investigators.

There have been no more words about the troops since. But in what could be a step to neutralize the showdown, the government on Thursday signaled negotiations with the UN mission on force rotation procedures.

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