In Mali, the case of the Ivorian soldiers arrested on July 10 continues to create new twists and turns. They are still being held by Bamako, who considers them “mercenaries” and intends to bring them to justice, while Abidjan claims that they are ordinary soldiers deployed in support of the UN mission in the country, with the status of NSE, National Support Element. It is in this context that the Malian government announces the suspension of all military rotations of Minusma.
Initially, the UN had confirmed the status of the Ivorian soldiers before returning. The UN confirms that an agreement on this NSE status was indeed concluded in 2019 with Abidjan, but that no Ivorian soldier deployed since in the field would have been under this agreement. A confusing situation where this new announcement from the Malian authorities comes.
The decision takes effect immediately: “all rotations of Minusma’s military and police contingents, including those already planned or announced”, are suspended at Minusma. The UN mission has about 15,000 soldiers and police in Mali, provided by some fifty contributing countries from around the world.
The rotations, ie these men’s shifts, departures and arrivals, are therefore frozen from this Thursday. And this up to the holding of a “coordination meeting”, the date of which has not yet been set, during which the Malian authorities and Minusma will need to “define an optimal plan” to “facilitate the coordination and regulation of rotation” of UN contingents.
A more than radical decision, taken when the case of the 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested Last Sunday came to highlight a certain disorganization, or at least a lack of clarity, in the arrival in Mali of foreign soldiers. The Malian government assures that it will work “diligently” to quickly lift this measure and allow UN contingents to carry out their mission.
Minusma blue helmets are deployed throughout the country to try to secure the inhabitants and support the political process.