Members of a Malian civil society group, close to the ruling military government, demanded on Friday that the U.N. mission in Mali, “MINUSMA” leaves the country by September 22.
At the Culture’s Palace in Bamako, supporters of the anti-French Yerewolo Debout sur les Remparts – or “Yerewolo Standing on the Ramparts” – group pledged to take to the streets if the troops did not go.
Supporter of the organisation, Cheikh Ballo, explained why he backed calls to expel French authorities.
“The terrorist in Mali is France and, when we chased France away, what remained was the MINUSMA which is run by the French” he says.
“So, everything that happens in Mali now goes through MINUSMA. That’s why the only order of the day is the departure of MINUSMA so that we can find peace because we have lost our sovereignty.”
Many of the protesters wore blue bonnets to mock the UN peacekeepers in a move they called – “Operation blue bonnet against blue helmets.”
The head of the movement, Adama Ben Diarra, said he had already asked the UN to withdraw from Mali by September.
Speaking to supporters he said: ”As you know, we have to get together and go out massively on 22 September 2022 to liberate the country.
“This will be called the ‘final assault.’ It will be done with very, very determined people who will go out everywhere in Mali.”
Tensions between Mali and the U.N. have been running high in recent last months after Mali refused to authorise a U.N. mission, deployed to investigate alleged ongoing human rights violations in the country.
The Yerewolo movement has backed transitional president, Col. Assimi Goita and has organised several protests against France in the past.
The West African country has had two coups since 2020 in which the military has vowed to do more to stop jihadi violence while demanding that French and European troops leave.