UN troop rotations in the peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) resumed on Monday with a new approval mechanism one month after the ruling junta suspended troop rotations and accused 49 Ivorian soldiers of entering the country without permission on 10 July.
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 the soldiers had been imprisoned, charged with “attempting an attack on State security”.
The arrests highlighted the exiting 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 streamlined rotation procedure, according to a MINUSMA spokesperson, Myriam Dessables.
“It is planned that the rotations will start again this Monday”, Ms. Dessables confirmed.
🇲🇱#Mali: UN expert @aliounetine16 welcomes steps to restore constitutional order & a return to civilian rule, but expresses grave concerns about the resurgence of extremist violence & a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
— UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) August 15, 2022
She maintained that “we have put an end to” the contingents contacting us directly.
All requests must now go through MINUSMA, which must validate and transmit them to the country’s Foreign Affairs office by verbal note.
French blue helmets leave Mali
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
Meanwhile, 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 that has raised grave concerns over the resurgence of extremist.
He noted the resurgence and frequency of attacks and violence 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 Tine called on Malian transitional authorities and international partners to urgently readapt the security responses and strategies that have failed to effectively protect the civilian population and their fundamental human rights.