July 24 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Deputy Secretary General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Lacroix, arrived in Mali this Sunday to discuss with the coup military junta that governs the country the profound deterioration in relations experienced in recent months that has ended up putting a question mark over the performance of the United Nations mission in the country, MINUSMA, whose spokesperson was expelled from the country this week.
Lacroix will officially be in Mali until Thursday the 28th to discuss the one-year extension of MINUSMA’s mandate, a decision received without much enthusiasm by the Malian military, which in recent months has strengthened its collaboration with Russia amid the alleged deployment in the country of mercenaries of the Russian Wagner group, something that has been denied by Bamako and Moscow, which speak of regular military cooperation.
He will also discuss with the Malian authorities the expulsion of the spokesman, Olivier Salgado. The military junta linked its decision to “a series of tendentious and unacceptable publications” by Salgado on his social networks regarding the controversial detention of 49 Ivorian soldiers at the airport in the Malian capital, Bamako, on suspicion of attacking the territorial integrity of the country, and which led Mali to suspend the rotations of the international contingent, although the UN mission has denied any involvement.
In fact, the extension of MINUSMA’s mandate comes after France and its allies announced in February the troops deployed in the framework of operation ‘Barkhane’ and the Takuba Force, sent to Mali to help Bamako in the fight against jihadism, in the face of tensions with the military junta in the African country and after a series of protests by the Malian population, a large part of which accuses Western forces of looting the country through a colonialist policy.
Mali is led by Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of the coup military junta, which led the coup against Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020 and subsequently led a second coup in May 2021 against the transitional authorities of Mali –moment in which he overthrew the president and the prime minister, Bah Ndaw and Moctar Ouane–, seizing power.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Mali after the postponement of the elections scheduled for February and proposed a period of between 12 to 18 months for the Malian coup plotters to hand over power to civilian authorities to through new elections, although the board recently announced a two-year extension of the transition period.