March, 26

Mali expels human rights chief of UN peacekeeping mission

The ruling military junta accused the MINUSMA head of bias against the country. The decision comes after a UN Security Council briefing was critical of Mali.

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Mali expels human rights chief of UN peacekeeping mission
Harandane Dicko / MINUSMA
MINUSMA peacekeepers on patrol in Aguelhok, Mali (file photo).

The Mali government has asked the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country to leave, claiming he is persona non grata. The military junta, which came to power in a coup last month, said it had given the UN official 48 hours to leave.

The move comes after the UN Security Council voted to authorise the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to Mali. The mission is aimed at stabilising the country and helping to restore democracy after the coup.

The Mali government has opposed the UN mission, saying it violates the country’s sovereignty. The junta has said it will not cooperate with the UN mission and has vowed to crush any resistance to its rule.

In a statement read on TV, government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga accused Guillaume Ngefa Atonodok Andali, head of MINUSMA’s human rights section, of bias in the choice of civil society witnesses for UN Security Council briefings on Mali.

“This measure comes after the destabilising and subversive actions of Monsieur Andali,” Maiga said.

The Malian government particularly singled out the last such briefing, which took place on January 27.

During the briefing, rights activist Aminata Cheick Dicko denounced the security situation in the country, and accused the regime’s Russian partner, the Wagner group, of serious rights violations.

Mali’s row with MINUSMA

UN experts called on January 31 for an independent investigation into potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, purportedly committed by the Malian armed forces and the Russian private military contractor.

In a statement delivered during the UNSC January 27 meeting, UN Deputy Representative Richard Mills described Wagner as a “criminal organisation that is committing widespread atrocities and human rights abuses in Mali and elsewhere.”

Mills also said the Malian authorities had blocked the MINUSMA mission from deterring and responding to attacks as well as investigating alleged human rights abuses on 237 separate occasions.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA’s mission, or the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, aimed to stabilize Mali amid a growing jihadist insurgency.

However, relations between the mission and the ruling regime became tense recently, especially following the military take-over in a 2020 coup, followed by another coup nine months later.

In August 2022, Malian authorities also expelled MINUSMA Spokesman Olivier Salgado, and ordered the temporary suspension of the mission’s group rotations.

AFP and Reuters contributed to this report 

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