Mali’s foreign minister on Tuesday said his country was “not at war” with the United Nations as relations with Bamako’s military junta have plummeted in recent weeks.
The spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, Olivier Salgado, has been expelled for publishing what the authorities deemed “unacceptable” information on Twitter following the arrest of 49 Ivorian soldiers in Bamako earlier this month.
Ivory Coast says its troops were providing routine back-up to the MINUSMA operation’s Ivorian contingent, but Mali described them as “mercenaries”.
Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop’s comments came after a meeting with UN under-secretary-general for peace operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who was visiting the Malian capital to discuss a one-year extension of MINUSMA operations, recently approved by the Security Council.
“Mali is not at war with the United Nations, contrary to what others have tried to say. Even in a family there are difficulties, there are problems, but you overcome them,” Diop said.
Lacroix said his talks with Diop “went well” and that the United Nations was seeking to review the way it supports the country, rocked by a bloody jihadist insurgency since 2012.
The Malian authorities have also announced the suspension of all MINUSMA rotations, saying a meeting between both parties must take place to facilitate their coordination and regulation.
“Rotations are like the blood circulatory system, we must resume them urgently,” said Lacroix.
MINUSMA has more than 12,000 troops in Mali.