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United Nations ends peacekeeping mission in Mali

After a-decade-long presence in Mali, the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission has been brought to an end.

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously voted to end the mission’s work in Mali after the government asked for it’s withdrawal.

The mandate of the peacekeeping mission was to end on June 30 with the UN chief, Antonio Guterres asking for a year’s extension but Mali said no to that.

Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told the UN Security Council that the mission, MINUSMA, is rather becoming “a part of the problem in fuelling intercommunal tensions.”

The 13,000-strong force would now have to leave, in a move the United States said was engineered by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group.

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The operation, MINUSMA was commissioned in 2013 Mali to stem the Islamist insurgency that took root following an uprising in 2012.

The Security Council deployed MINUSMA to support foreign and local efforts to restore stability.

Frustrations over mission’s failure

But the security threats posed by the jihadists’ activities still remain and that often frustrate locals who in recent years turned against peacekeepers with some protests turning deadly.

They wanted the UN mission to leave and Mali’s current military rulers decided in 2021 to invite Russia’s Wagner group to help deal with the security crisis.

Many experts believe the Wagner mercenaries played a key role in Mali asking for the mission’s mandate not to be renewed.

The 15-member security council on Friday adopted a French-drafted resolution asking that the mission on Saturday begin “the cessation of its operations, transfer of its tasks, as well as the orderly and safe drawdown and withdrawal of its personnel, with the objective of completing this process by Dec. 31, 2023.”

Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva told the Security Council that Mali had made a “sovereign decision.”

“We would like to confirm our support for Bamako in its aspiration to take full responsibility and play the leading role in stabilizing the Malian state,” she said.

“Russia will continue to provide comprehensive support to Mali for normalizing the situation in that country on a bilateral basis.”

In a statement Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General said the UN chief “reiterates his deep appreciation to all United Nations personnel and leadership for their resilience, contributions and service in very challenging and difficult circumstances.”

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