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Mali, Tuareg groups against the withdrawal of the UN mission: "A mortal blow to the Algiers agreement"


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The coordination of the Malian Tuareg groups signatories to the Algiers Agreement will not recognize the outcome of the constitutional referendum held last Sunday in the country and has urged the United Nations Mission in Mali (minusma) not to leave the territory as requested by the ruling military junta. In a statement signed by his spokesman, Mohamed Mouloud Ould Ramadan, the Permanent Strategic Framework for Peace, Security and Development (csp-psd) – which brings together the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (cma), the Algiers Platform Movements of 14 June 2014 and the Coordination of Movements for Inclusion (cmi) – consider the MINUSMA mission to be the "sole guarantor" of the Algiers Agreement as well as the implementation of most of its clauses, in particular as regards the fight against terrorism. Its withdrawal, according to the fighters who signed the historic agreement with the Bamako government, "would deal a mortal blow to the Algiers agreement, the implementation of which has been delayed". In conclusion, the Csp-Psd asks for the extension of the mandate of the UN mission, an issue on which the Security Council is soon called to express itself.

The declarations of the Tuareg fighters, after the French withdrawal from Mali remained in fact the only bastion against the jihadist offensive alongside the Malian army, are part of the ongoing debate on the renewal of the UN peace mission, contested by the military junta in power in 2020 and 2021 with a double coup because it was deemed ineffective. During the meeting of the United Nations Security Council held on 16 June, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop declared that in the last ten years insecurity in Mali has worsened, arguing that this has caused "a crisis of confidence in the Malian people” and invited the UN forces in no uncertain terms to leave. "The government of Mali calls for the withdrawal of MINUSMA without delay," Diop told representatives of the 15 member countries. After the meeting, the head of MINUSMA mission, El Ghassim Wane, commented to the media that conducting peace operations without the consent of the host country would be "practically impossible", underlining that the decision "is up to the (Security) Council" but leaving in somehow understand that the withdrawal is inevitable.

The United States also quickly entered the debate, which a few days after the UN meeting explicitly urged the Security Council to express itself in favor of an "orderly and responsible" withdrawal of the Minusma mission from Mali. “We are concerned about the effects this decision will have on the security and humanitarian crises affecting the Malian people. We will continue to work with our partners in West Africa to help them address the urgent security and governance challenges they face", reads a statement from the US State Department, in which Washington "welcomes further consultations with regional leaders on other measures to promote stability and prevent conflicts”. The State Department added that the military-led Malian government "must meet all its commitments", in particular by transferring power to an elected civilian administration by March 2024. For its part, the Malian coup government said it was "open to collaborate" with the UN on the management of security, declarations that however appear only on the facade: in fact, in January, the secretary general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, had advanced three options for modifying the Minusma mission (including its withdrawal) , before recommending to the Council an intermediate solution of "reconfiguration" of the mission in order to focus on a limited number of priorities. However, the Bamako government has rejected all options.

The Malian security situation is a sensitive issue at a regional level, and an appeal recently came from Algeria - guarantor of the 2015 agreements - to defend the implementation of the agreements. In an exclusive interview granted to "Agenzia Nova" during his first visit to Italy, on June 20, Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf defined Mali as "the hub" of concerns relating to the proliferation of terrorism in the Sahel region and recalled that without an agreement between the various players in the region, the area remains exposed to flows of "heavily armed groups operating in a vast expanse of the Sahel, from Burkina Faso to Mali, with part of Niger". However, it was precisely from Burkina Faso, a country similarly governed by a pro-Russian military junta and the first contributor to the Minusma mission, that a favorable position for Minusma's withdrawal came. In a statement, the government of Colonel Ibrahim Traoré welcomed the "courageous decision" of the Malian junta to request the withdrawal of UN forces and called on the international community to "respect it without discussion". In a further passage, Rimtalba spokesman Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo explicitly asked Guterres to "make the necessary arrangements for the withdrawal of Burkina Faso troops" who are engaged in Mali in the framework of the Minusma mission, i.e. a total of 1.685 men and 38 women . Ouagadougou's spokesman defined the Malian choice as "in accordance with the strategic vision of the Malian state in the fight against terrorism and for the restoration of peace and security in the Sahel", but in the eyes of Burkina Faso the choice is all the more deserving as it follows that of the Burkinabé junta itself, which last January ordered France to withdraw the 400 men stationed in its country within a month.

The UN body is called to express itself on the possible renewal of the MINUSMA mission by 30 June. At least nine votes in favor and no vetoes from Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom or France will be needed to pass the resolution. According to the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, the UN peacekeeping mission could only be successful if there was "very close coordination with the host country and respect for Mali's sovereignty". With the explicit request presented to the United Nations to withdraw its troops stationed in the country "without delay", the military junta in power in Mali after the double coup of 2020 and 2021 marked a further distance from the international community and from the West. Now three years after the first coup d'état in 2020, the promises to restore the Sahelian country to a regular constitutional order within 18 months have slowly faded away: the government of Colonel Assimi Goita has repeatedly postponed the elections (now set for February 2024), claiming the need to first carry out reforms deemed mandatory, breaking relations with France and progressively outsourcing the management of security to the Russian ally, present in the country with hundreds of mercenaries from the Wagner paramilitary group. After interrupting the defense agreements with Paris and explicitly asking it to withdraw its men from the country, the junta now reserves the same treatment for UN troops, denouncing the "failure" of the peacekeepers stationed in the country since 2013.

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