UN troop rotations in the peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) resumed on Monday with a new approval mechanism one month after they were suspended by the ruling junta, which accused 49 Ivorian soldiers of entering the country without permission.
The soldiers, who were described by the Government of Mali as “mercenaries,” were part of logistical support operations for the nearly 12,000-strong mission, according to Abidjan.
Malian justice authorities officially confirmed that after an incident, which occurred on on 10 July, the soldiers had been imprisoned under the charge of “attempting an attack on State security”.
The arrests highlight the existing friction between the junta, which seized power through a coup in August 2020, and the UN, whose peacekeepers have been providing security from Islamist militants in the country since 2013.
The UN mission and Malian authorities have agreed to a streamline rotation procedure, according to MINUSMA spokesperson Myriam Dessables.
“The rotations will start again this Monday”, Ms. Dessables confirmed, maintaining that “we have put an end to” the contingents contacting us directly”.
All requests must now be transmitted to and validated by the country’s Foreign Affairs office.
Meanwhile, relations between Mali and troop-contributing countries remain strained.
After nine years, the last French peacekeepers of the Barkhane anti-jihadist force departed on Monday.
Human rights concerns
In other coverage, after a ten-day visit, UN independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali welcomed steps to restore constitutional order and return to civilian rule in the country.
Notwithstanding the measures underway, he pointed however, to a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the country, which has raised grave concerns over the resurgence of extremist.
He noted an uptick in the frequency of attacks committed by violent extremist groups in the north of the country, in the center and around the capital, Bamako.
“The deterioration of the security situation in Mali has a considerable impact on the protection of human rights and the humanitarian situation,” the UN expert said.
“There is a poisonous climate marked by suspicion and mistrust, with a continuous narrowing of civic space, the hardening of the Malian transitional authorities, and a malaise that does not spare international partners”.
Mr. Tine called on Malian transitional authorities and international partners to urgently readapt the security responses and strategies that have effectively protected the civilian population and their fundamental human rights.