West African Leaders Agree To Create Regional Force

 

West African leaders agreed on Sunday to create a regional force to intervene against jihadism and in the event of coups, a senior official said.

Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States had decided to act to “take care of our own security in the region”, Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS commission, told journalists at a summit in Nigeria.

They are “determined to establish a regional force that will intervene in the event of need, whether this is in the area of security, terrorism and restore constitutional order in member countries,” he added.

Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso have all been hit by military coups in the last two years.

Several countries in the region are also suffering from the spread of jihadism, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and southwards to the Gulf of Guinea.

National armies, largely powerless against the jihadist forces operating across borders, have been cooperating with external actors such as the UN, France and Russia.

But Touray said this decision would “restructure our security architecture”.

The modalities of the planned regional force will be considered by defence chiefs in the second half of 2023, Touray said.

The funding of the force must also be decided, but the ECOWAS official stressed that such an operation could not be solely dependent on voluntary contributions.

Pressure on Mali

Addressing another regional problem, the West African leaders told Mali’s ruling junta to release 46 Ivorian troops it has held since July.

“We ask the Malian authorities to release the Ivorian soldiers by January 1, 2023 at the latest,” said Touray, at the Abuja summit.

The Gambian diplomat said the West African bloc reserved the right to act if the soldiers were not released by January 1.

If Mali fails to do so, ECOWAS will impose sanctions, a West African diplomat told AFP.

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been mediating between Mali and Ivory Coast on the issue, will travel to Mali to “demand” the release of the soldiers, the diplomat added.

The Ivorian troops were arrested on July 10 on their arrival at the airport in Mali’s capital Bamako.

Ivory Coast says the troops were sent to provide backup for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, and are being unfairly detained.

Mali says the troops are mercenaries and has placed them in custody on charges of attempting to harm state security.

ECOWAS had decided at an extraordinary summit in September to send a high-level delegation to Mali to try to resolve the crisis. But no progress was reported from this mission.

Coup-hit nations

The West African leaders, concerned about instability and contagion, have been pressing for months for the quickest possible return to civilian rule in the three countries which have undergone coups in recent years.

Mali and Burkina Faso have both been severely shaken by the spread of jihadism.

All three countries have been suspended from the decision-making bodies of ECOWAS.

Leaders of the military juntas have pledged, under pressure, to step down after two years, allowing for a transition period during which they all say they want to “rebuild” their state.

ECOWAS has been looking to see what progress each nation has been making towards restoring constitutional order.

In Mali, “it is essential that constitutional order returns within the planned timeframe”, said Touray.

If Mali’s military meets the announced deadline of March 2024 — after months of confrontation with ECOWAS and a severe trade and financial embargo that has now been lifted — the “transition” will in fact have lasted three and a half years.

Touray urged the junta in Guinea to involve all parties and civil society in dialogue “immediately” on the process of restoring civilian rule.

The main political parties and much of civil society there have been boycotting the authorities’ offer of dialogue.

As for Burkina Faso, Touray expressed ECOWAS’s “serious concerns” about the security situation and the humanitarian crisis there, while pledging support for the country.

Mali Bus Blast Kills At Least 11 People – Hospital Source

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.

 

At least 11 people were killed and 53 injured when a bus hit an explosive device in central Mali on Thursday, according to a hospital source.

The explosion occurred on the road between Bandiagara and Goundaka in the Mopti area in the early afternoon, a security source said. The region is known as a hotbed for jihadist violence.

Earlier, police and local sources gave a provisional toll of 10 dead and many seriously injured.

“We have just transferred nine bodies to the clinic. And it’s not over yet,” said Moussa Housseyni of the local Bandiagara Youth Association, adding that they were all civilians.

READ ALSO: Chad Ex-Opposition Figure Saleh Kebzabo Named Prime Minister

Mali has long struggled with a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are among the jihadists’ weapons of choice. They can explode on impact or be detonated remotely.

A report by MINUSMA, the UN mission in Mali, found that mines and IEDs had caused 72 deaths in 2022 as of August 31. Most of the victims were soldiers — but more than a quarter were civilians, it said.

Last year, 103 people were killed and 297 injured by IEDs and mines.

AFP

Dozens Killed Following ‘Islamic State Attack’ In Mali

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa

 

 

Dozens of civilians were killed this week in a northern Malian town attacked by jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State group, a local elected official and the leader of an armed group told AFP Friday.

It was the first time the town of Talataye, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the city of Gao, has been attacked on such a scale by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

On Tuesday, the jihadists fought a fierce battle with rivals from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and other armed groups, including the Tuareg-dominated Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), various people familiar with the events told AFP.

The ISGS fighters, who emerged from the bush on motorbikes, took control of the town Tuesday evening after more than three hours of bitter fighting, AFP learned earlier this week.

The situation on the ground remains unclear, as information is difficult to come by in the dangerous and remote Sahel area, largely cut off from communication networks.

The death toll also varies according to different accounts.

A local official said that 45 civilians had been killed, while an MSA leader put the civilian death toll at 30. Both spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity and added that houses and the market had been torched.

An international humanitarian worker in the region said “several dozen” civilians had been killed.

It is unclear whether the civilians were deliberately killed or caught in crossfire.

Both the local politician and the MSA leader said there had been at least a partial withdrawal of ISGS fighters since Tuesday.

MSA fighters entered the town on Thursday, the group said. It says it now controls one part of the area while the GSIM controls another part.

MSA fighters have “gathered information and bodies”, he added.

“What really worries us is the humanitarian situation — the people are left to fend for themselves,” the local politician said.

A women’s association from the area, but based in Gao, launched an “urgent appeal” on Friday to “come to the aid of the battered population”.

Caught in the crossfire

Talataye, an agglomeration of hamlets, lies at the heart of competing areas of influence, and clashes are frequent. It had some 13,000 inhabitants in 2009, the date of the last census in Mali.

The area is mainly inhabited by Tuareg Dahoussahak nomads, with few urban centres and a sparse population.

The GSIM is said to be very influential there.

Other armed groups consisting mainly of MSA fighters that signed a 2015 peace accord are also based there.

The regions of Gao and Menaka, to its east, have for months suffered infighting among jihadist groups as well as violence between jihadists and other armed groups.

The state has a very weak presence and civilians, mainly nomads living in camps scattered across the desert, are frequently caught in the crossfire.

Jihadists attack the civilians, often on suspicion of siding with the enemy.

Hundreds of civilians have died and tens of thousands have been displaced.

The Malian government on Tuesday said it had carried out a “reconnaissance offensive” of Talataye from the air.

The army’s communications chief, Colonel Souleymane Dembele, told the Malian press Friday that the occupation of Talataye by ISGS jihadists was “fake news”.

ISGS, formed after a split with other jihadist groups in 2015, has flourished in recent years in the border area between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

It recruits largely from historically marginalised nomadic communities, and is responsible for numerous civilian massacres, notably in Seytenga, Burkina Faso, where 86 civilians were killed in June.

One of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked Mali has been battling separatist and jihadist insurgencies since 2012.

Mali Junta Names New Interim PM

The Malian flag is hoisted during the handover ceremony of the Barkhane military base from the French to the Malian army in Timbuktu, on December 14, 2021. FLORENT VERGNES / AFP

 

Mali’s military junta has appointed a colonel, Abdoulaye Maiga, as the interim replacement for the country’s civilian prime minister, who has been admitted to hospital.

Colonel Maiga is also a government spokesman and minister of territorial administration and decentralisation.

His appointment was announced in a decree read on state television late Sunday.

He provisionally replaces a veteran civilian politician, Choguel Kokalla Maiga, 64, who was named premier after the junta which took power in August 2020 and carried out a second coup in May 2021.

READ ALSO[Father And Son] The Deby Regime Charts Chad’s Future

Maiga, who shares the same name as his interim successor, had served several times as a minister in previous governments.

He was an unsuccessful candidate in presidential elections in 2002, 2013, and 2018.

He was a founder member of the June 5 Movement — a coalition that had launched a wave of protests against Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, before he was toppled in 2020.

In recent months, Maiga has come under criticism from many of his former allies for following the junta’s line.

His replacement by a colonel means that both of Mali’s seniormost government positions are currently in the hands of the military.

Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita had himself appointed transitional president after the May 2021 coup.

AFP

France Completes Mali Pull-Out

This file photo taken on January 15, 2013 shows French troops from the “Licorne” operation based in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) arriving at the 101st military airbase near Bamako to reinforce the “Serval” operations, before their deployment in the north of Mali.  Eric Feferberg / AFP

 

The last soldiers belonging to France’s Barkhane operation in Mali have now left the African country, the French chiefs of staff said on Monday.

French forces have been supporting Mali against insurgents for nearly a decade, but President Emmanuel Macron decided to pull out after France and the Malian junta fell out in the wake of a military takeover.

“Today at 13H00 Paris time (1100 GMT) the final contingent of the Barkhane force still on Malian territory crossed the border between Mali and Niger,” the statement said.

The army had met the “major military logistics challenge” of the pull-out “in an orderly and safe fashion”, it added.

After ties ruptured between Paris and the junta that took power in Mali in August 2020, France began to withdraw its troops in February, as jihadist violence surged in the Sahel.

Friction developed over the junta’s delays in restoring civilian rule and escalated when Mali brought in Russian paramilitaries — personnel described by France as “mercenaries” from the pro-Kremlin Wagner group.

READ ALSO: Troops Killed Over 40 Civilians In Burkina Faso – Groups

 ‘Prevented Caliphate’ 

Macron on Monday congratulated the military on its nine years in Mali, saying it had “prevented the establishment of a territorial caliphate, and fought against terrorists that attack local populations and threaten Europe”.

Most high-ranking members of the “terrorist groups” had been “neutralised”, he said, adding that 59 French soldiers had died in Mali in total.

More than 2,000 civilians have been killed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally based on the findings of non-governmental organisation ACLED.

At its peak, France’s Barkhane mission had 5,100 troops among five Sahel allies, all former French colonies — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The forces have provided key support in air power, troop transport and reconnaissance. France has an air base in Niger’s capital Niamey where it has deployed drones.

After the Malian pullout, the mission will have “around 2,500” troops, Barkhane commander General Laurent Michon said last month.

The reconfigured mission will emphasise “more cooperative operations,” he said.

Frontline Niger 

France will keep more than 1,000 men in Niger, where a tactical group will continue to work in partnership with the Nigerien forces.

Niger is a frontline state in the fight against jihadism as the unstable region struggles with a string of military coups.

“The democratic regression in West Africa is extremely worrying,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told French MPs ahead of a trip to the region in July.

“However, in spite of these events (and) the withdrawal from Mali, France will continue to help West African armies fight terrorist groups.”

Niger is one of the biggest recipients of French aid, receiving 143 million euros ($146 million) last year.

The two sides will sign agreements for a French loan of 50 million euros and a grant of 20 million euros.

Niger, the world’s poorest country by the benchmark of the UN’s Human Development Index, has been badly hit by the jihadist insurgency that began in northern Mali in 2012 and then swept to neighbouring countries.

Niger is facing insurgencies both on its western border with Mali and Burkina Faso and on its south-eastern frontier with Nigeria.

More than a thousand troops will be deployed in Niger, providing air support and training, according to French sources.

French troops are also in Gabon, Ivory Coast and Senegal, as well as in the east of Africa, in Djibouti.

Macron in June asked the government and military chiefs “to rethink our overall presence on the African continent by the autumn.”

He called for “a presence that is less static and less exposed” and “a closer relationship” with African armed forces.

AFP

Germany Suspends Military Operations In Mali

 This file photo taken on August 2, 2018 shows German soldiers from the parachutists detachment of the MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) searching for IED (improvised explosive device) during a patrol on the route from Gao to Gossi, Mali. (Photo by SEYLLOU / AFP)
This file photo taken on August 2, 2018 shows German soldiers from the parachutists detachment of the MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) searching for IED (improvised explosive device) during a patrol on the route from Gao to Gossi, Mali. (Photo by SEYLLOU / AFP)

 

The German defence ministry said Friday it had suspended most of its operations in Mali after the local military-led government denied flyover rights to a UN peacekeeping mission.

“The Malian government has once again refused to give flyover rights to a flight planned today” for the rotation of personnel on the ground, a ministry spokesman said at a regular press conference.

In response, Germany had decided to “suspend until further notice the operations of our reconnaissance forces and CH-53 (helicopter) transport flights”.

“It is no longer possible to support the MINUSMA reconnaissance missions on an operational basis,” the spokesman said.

Without the new troops, who were set to “replace French forces” in the process of withdrawing, “security on site is not assured” as the “remaining forces must be kept ready for security operations”.

The flyover rights were refused despite assurances to the contrary from the Malian Defence Minister Sadio Camara in a call with his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht Thursday, the spokesman said.

“Camara’s actions tell a different story than his words,” Lambrecht said in a statement posted by her ministry on Twitter.

The German move comes as Mali’s junta turned away from France and toward Russia in its fight against jihadism.

The long-running insurgency has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

The relationship between Bamako and Paris, its former colonial power and traditional ally, has deteriorated in recent months.

The arrival of Russian paramilitaries in the country on the invitation of the government was a key factor in France’s decision to pull its military forces out.

The withdrawal is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

AFP

42 Mali Soldiers Killed In Suspected Jihadist Attacks

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa

 

Forty-two Malian soldiers died in a sophisticated weekend attack by suspected jihadists using drones and artillery, authorities said Wednesday, the latest violent incident to rock the troubled Sahel country.

The toll is one of the bloodiest in Mali’s decade-long insurgency, which has spread from the north of the country to the centre and south and into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

A document naming the dead was authenticated to AFP by several senior military officials, while the government later confirmed the toll in a statement that said 22 soldiers were injured and 37 “terrorists” were neutralised.

The attack occurred on Sunday in the town of Tessit, in the troubled “three-border” region where the frontiers of the three nations converge.

On Monday, the army had said 17 soldiers and four civilians had died. Relatives of the victims, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that some of the civilians had been elected officials.

Monday’s statement pointed the finger of blame at the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), saying its members had deployed “drone and artillery support and (used) explosives and an explosives-laden vehicle”.

The last time Mali’s armed forces sustained such losses was in a string of attacks in the same region in late 2019 and early 2020.

Hundreds of soldiers were killed in assaults on nearly a dozen bases, typically carried out by highly mobile fighters on motorbikes.

The raids prompted the Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabe forces to fall back from forwarding bases and hunker down in better-defended locations.

In January 2020, France and its Sahel allies agreed on a push against the ISGS at a summit in Pau, southwestern France.

Several of its leaders were targeted and killed, including its founder, Abu Walid Al-Sahraoui, but local people say the group has continued to recruit and carry out its operations.

– Hotspot –

Tessit is one of the hotspots in the three-border area.

The ISGS is fighting for control of the strategic, gold-rich area against an Al-Qaeda-linked alliance, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

In March 2021, 33 soldiers were killed in an ISGS-claimed ambush as units were being rotated, and in February this year, around 40 civilians — suspected by the ISGS of being in league with Al-Qaeda — were massacred.

Mobile phone connections to the area have been frequently cut over the last few years and physical access is hard, especially during the mid-year rainy season.

Thousands have fled Tessit to the nearest large town, Gao, which is located some 150 kilometres (90 miles) to the north.

Across the Sahel, the jihadist campaign has claimed thousands of lives and forced more than two million to flee their homes.

Sporadic cross-border attacks have also occurred in Ivory Coast, Togo and Benin to the south, amplifying fears of a jihadist push towards the Gulf of Guinea.

-AFP

At Least 16 Killed In Attacks In Northern Mali

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.

 

At least 16 people were killed in two-midweek attacks in northeastern Mali by suspected jihadists on encampments of nomadic tribesmen, local sources told AFP on Sunday.

“The killings took place in the evening between Wednesday and Thursday with the same modus operandi: assailants on motorbikes who came into the camp, shot at people indiscriminately from close range, then take away their livestock,” said a source close to the authorities in Menaka, the region near the Niger border where the attacks happened.

The first attack targeted a nomadic camp about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the region’s capital, also called Menaka. Twelve people were killed

In the other attack “armed men” targeted another camp at Inekar Tadriante, killing five, the source added.

Leaders of the Tuareg nomadic community posted on social networks in recent days of “massacres of civilians” by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), affiliated to the Islamic State group, which operated in the border regions between Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

READ ALSOFirst Grain Shipment Leaves Ukraine As Southern City Pounded

They put the overall death toll from the two attacks at 16.

The region has become increasingly violent and unstable since Tuareg separatist rebels rose up against the government in 2012.

Jihadist fighters took advantage of their rebellion to launch their own offensive, threatening the capital Bamako in the south until a French-led force pushed them back in 2013.

The Tuareg separatists and the government agreed to a peace accord in 2015, but it has yet to be applied.

So now Mali’s weak, national government faces both separatist and jihadist insurgencies in the north of the country — a largely desert region that is all but devoid of state infrastructure.

A recent report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the so-called three-border region with Niger and Burkina Faso had seen a “significant deterioration” in security.

AFP

Ivory Coast Denies Plan To Destabilise Mali After Soldiers Held

Alassane Ouattara Photographer: Michael Nagle/

 

Ivory Coast’s president on Friday dismissed any suggestion that his country sought to destabilise Mali after a group of Ivorian soldiers were detained there and accused of being mercenaries.

Speaking during an official visit to South Africa, President Alassane Ouattara also voiced hopes for a rapid solution to the dispute, which has strained relations between the two West African countries.

“Ivory Coast cannot get involved in any attempt to destabilise any country and especially a neighbouring country,” he told a press briefing in Pretoria.

“For us, there is no question of getting involved in any attempt at destabilisation,” he reiterated, adding, “Everyone regrets this situation.”

Forty-nine Ivorian soldiers were detained after their arrival at Bamako airport on July 10.

Mali has labelled them “mercenaries,” but Ivory Coast says they were sent to provide backup duties for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

A UN spokesman has said that while they were not UN peacekeeping troops as such, they were part of “national support elements” routinely deployed by contributing countries.

Mali is struggling with a long-running jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

It is also in the grip of political turbulence after colonels angry at the government’s handling of the insurgency seized power in August 2020.

Their takeover triggered a long standoff with the regional bloc ECOWAS, of which Ivory Coast is a member, over a timetable for restoring civilian rule.

-AFP

Mali Army Thwarts Terrorist Attack At Key Garrison Town

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa

 

The Malian army said it had thwarted a “terrorist” attack on Friday at a town on the outskirts of the capital where a key base used by the ruling military is located.

Armed forces “vigorously repelled” a dawn attack at the garrison town of Kati in which assailants used two explosives-laden vehicles, the army said on Facebook.

“The situation is under control and operations are underway to flush out those behind (the attack) and their accomplices,” it said.

Two assailants have been killed, it said, giving what it described as a provisional toll.

One of Africa’s most troubled states, Mali is struggling with both a jihadist insurgency and political turbulence, experiencing two coups within the last two years.

Residents said they heard gunfire and explosions at dawn.

“We were woken up at five o’clock by firing, by explosions, we don’t know what’s going on,” said one resident said.

Another source said: “Our base is being attacked.”

Several hours later, an AFP correspondent heard detonations as special forces personnel were deployed in the area and two helicopters flew overhead.

A military source, who also asked not to be identified, said the attack aimed at a military fuel and transport depot, and the assailants had taken two vehicles.

The French embassy sent text messages to French nationals saying, “attack underway at Kati” and urging caution.

The base at Kati is located 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the capital Bamako.

It is a major hub for the Malian military, which has been behind a string of coups since the country gained independence from France in 1960.

The camp is reputedly the residence of strongman Colonel Assimi Goita, who is Mali’s transitional president, and Defence Minister Colonel Sadio Camara.

The base was the springboard for mounting a putsch led by Goita in August 2020 and afterwards was used to detain the ousted elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

After another coup the following May, the base was then used to hold Keita’s successor, Bah Ndaw, and prime minister Moctar Ouane.

– Troubled country –

Keita was forced out after mounting protests at failures to stem a jihadist campaign that erupted in northern Mali in 2012 and then spread to the country’s volatile centre, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Across the three countries, thousands of civilians, troops and police have been killed and more than two million people have fled their homes.

The camp at Kati has never been hit in the insurgency, and the identity of the assailants is unknown.

The attack came a day after suspected jihadists carried out six simultaneous raids — also launched at dawn — on security positions in the regions of Segou and Mopti in the centre of the country and in Koulikoro, near Bamako.

In May 2021, the junta led by Goita staged a second coup, forcing out a civilian-led government.

Since then, it has woven closer ties with the Kremlin, bringing in Russian personnel, while relations with international partners have gone into a downward spiral.

A spat with France has triggered a pullout of French forces that have been fighting jihadists in Mali for nearly a decade. The withdrawal is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

Tensions, meanwhile, have brewed with the UN’s peacekeeping force MINUSMA, whose spokesman this week was told to leave the country.

 

 

 

-AFP

Mali Expels Spokesman Of UN Peacekeeping Mission

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa and the eighth-largest country in Africa

 

Mali is expelling the spokesman of the UN’s peacekeeping force in the country over posts he made on Twitter, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado has been given 72 hours to leave over “tendentious and unacceptable” posts he made concerning a controversy involving Ivorian troops, it said in a statement received by AFP.

The expulsion comes amid mounting friction between Mali’s ruling military and international partners supporting the country’s fight against jihadists.

The issue over Salgado relates to 49 troops from Ivory Coast who were detained after landing at Bamako airport on July 10.

The authorities have accused the troops of being “mercenaries”.

But Ivory Coast says they were sent to provide a support role for MINUSMA, under a routine rotation.

According to Mali’s version of events, the troops had no mission orders or any authorisation to enter the country.

The foreign ministry statement accused Salgado of Twitter posts “declaring without any proof that the Malian authorities had been previously informed” of their arrival.

MINUSMA, it said, was asked to provide evidence to support Salgado’s assertions but had given no reply.

“The ministry cannot remain passive in the face of this behaviour, which harms the partnership with MINUSMA and other partners,” it said.

The incident takes place against a backdrop of problems in Mali, one of Africa’s poorest and most unstable countries.

Thousands of people have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced in a jihadist campaign that began in northern Mali in 2012 and then spread to Niger and Burkina Faso three years later.

MINUSMA — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali — was launched in 2013.

It is one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operations, with 17,609 troops, police, civilians and volunteers deployed as of April, according to the mission’s website.

It is also one of the most dangerous UN missions, with 275 fatalities from attacks, accidents or other causes, according to the website.

On Friday, Egypt, MINUSMA’s biggest single troop contributor, said it would “temporarily suspend” its participation in operations after seven of its troops were killed this year.

Malian colonels angry at the government’s handling of the insurgency seized power in August 2020 and carried out another coup in May 2021.

Their takeover triggered a long standoff with the regional bloc ECOWAS over a timetable for restoring civilian rule.

The coup also led to a spat with France, Mali’s former colonial ruler and traditional supporter.

Troops in France’s Barkhane anti-jihadist mission in the Sahel are expected to complete a pullout from Mali in the coming weeks.

Mali Welcomes Lifting Of ‘Illegal, Inhumane’ Sanctions

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.

 

 

Mali’s junta said Monday it was “satisfied” by the lifting of “illegal and inhumane” sanctions imposed by West African states in January after two coups in the country.

The military-dominated government said in a statement it “notes with satisfaction a convergence of views that has allowed us to reach a compromise” that led to the lifting of the embargo against Mali.

It thanked the Malian people for their “sacrifice and resilience” in the face of “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane sanctions” by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Bamako also praised the “active solidarity” of neighbouring Guinea and Mauritania, whose territories and ports, in Conakry and Nouakchott, made it possible to circumvent the West African embargo.

The pair allowed Mali to bypass Dakar and Abidjan where the bulk of products destined for landlocked Mali traditionally transit.

West African leaders on Sunday lifted trade and financial sanctions imposed in January on Mali, which underwent two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021.

The ruling colonels have yielded to ECOWAS demands by recently publishing a new electoral law and a timetable that includes a presidential election in February 2024, during a transition limited to two years.

However, sanctions and the suspension of Mali from ECOWAS bodies remain in place until constitutional order is restored.

The political crisis in Mali has been accompanied by a serious security crisis since 2012 and the outbreak of separatist and jihadist insurgencies in the north.