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A country on the move but not just on the roads. Mali is continuing its new direction in foreign policy. First with the expulsion of the french qnti terrorism force. And now the expulsion of the spokesman of the UN’s peacekeeping force in the country.
MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado was given 72 hours to leave on Wednesday over posts he made on twitter concerning a controversy involving Ivorian troops.
The move is generatig reactions in the west African nation. “In this kind of situation, the state must take its responsibilities because when you are the spokesperson for an organisation as serious as MINUSMA, which is part of the United Nations, you must stand up, you must speak out for peace.” Malian journalist Issa Kaba Sidibé said.
Hon Aboubacar Sidick Fomba is the Member of the national counsel for the transition CNT. For him, the expulsion is in the right of government.
“I take it as an act of tendentious manipulation, making people believe that it was MINUSMA that had the authority. Normally it was MINUSMA itself that should expel Olivier Salgado before the Malian state to do so. But since MINUSMA was slow to do so, the government took its responsibilities.”
The issue over Salgado, a French national, relates to 49 troops from Ivory Coast who were detained after landing at Bamako airport on July 10. The authorities in Mali have accused the troops of being “mercenaries”.
The incident takes place against a backdrop of problems in Mali, one of Africa’s 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 spread to Niger and Burkina Faso three years later.
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, which says the junta has hired Russian “mercenaries” to support it.
France’s anti-jihadist mission in the Sahel is now pulling out of Mali. The operation is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.