Mali’s ruling junta said Sunday that it was expelling the head of the human rights division of MINUSMA, the United Nations mission there, giving him 48 hours to leave the country.
The decision comes after a Malian rights activist last month denounced the security situation in the country in a speech to a UN gathering, and accused the regime’s new Russian military partners of serious rights violations.
The foreign ministry had declared Guillaume Ngefa Atonodok Andali, head of MINUSMA’s human rights section, persona non grata, said a statement issued by government spokesperson Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga.
“This measure comes after the destabilizing and subversive actions of Monsieur Andali,” added the statement, which was also read out on national television news.
Andali had taken it upon himself to decide who were the representatives of civil society, ignoring the authorities and national institutions, the statement added.
“Andali’s bias was even more evident during the last review of the United Nations Security Council on Mali”, the statement added.
On January 27, rights activist Aminata Cheick Dicko criticized the regime at a special UN Security Council briefing on Mali.
Then on January 31, UN rights experts in Geneva called for an independent probe into abuses and possible war crimes in Mali carried out by government forces and Russia’s Wagner group, which has been operating alongside them.
– Growing tension –
MINUSMA was set up in 2013 to try to stabilize Mali in the face of the growing threat from jihadist fighters.
Its mission also includes the protection of civilians, contributing to peace efforts and defending human rights.
Although its mandate was renewed in 2019, the deteriorating security situation has raised questions in Mali and abroad about the continuing usefulness of the UN mission.
Some of the countries that once contributed to it have either already pulled out or are planning to. They include France and Ivory Coast, both of which have had major diplomatic breaks with Mali’s military regime.
Other countries including Egypt, Germany and Sweden have either pulled out of the mission or announced that they are going to do so.
Germany’s defense ministry said last Monday its soldiers would be pulling out by May 2024 because it made no sense to stay on when the troops could not fulfill their mission.
Tensions between the Malian authorities and the UN mission have increased with the arrival of the military junta, which seized power two years ago, promising to tackle the jihadist threat.
But the security situation has continued to deteriorate in the West African country.
The military regime has repeatedly blocked MINUSMA’s attempts to investigate reports of human rights abuses carried out by the armed forces.