The United States urges the “orderly and responsible” withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Mali

(Reuters) – The US State Department said on Monday that the United States regrets the decision of the interim military authorities in Mali to ask a United Nations peacekeeping force to leave the country and called for the mission’s “orderly and responsible” withdrawal.

Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Diop made the request during a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, citing a “crisis of confidence” between the Malian authorities and the decade-old UN mission known as MINUSMA.

“The United States regrets the decision of the transitional government in Mali to revoke its approval of MINUSMA,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “The withdrawal from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) must be orderly and responsible, with priority given to the safety and security of peacekeepers and Malians.”

“We are concerned about the effects of this decision on the security and humanitarian crises affecting the Malian people,” he said in a statement.

Mali has struggled to halt an Islamist insurgency that took hold in the aftermath of a 2012 uprising. The United Nations Security Council published MINUSMA in 2013 to support foreign and domestic efforts to restore stability.

Frustrations over growing insecurity led to two coups in 2020 and 2021, and the ruling military junta has been at increasing odds with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and other international allies, including France.

The junta burned bridges with traditional Western allies and turned to Russia for help in bolstering its military capabilities.

Miller said the United States “will continue to work with our West African partners to help them address the immediate security and governance challenges they face.” “We welcome further consultations with regional leaders on additional steps to enhance stability and prevent conflict,” he added.

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Members of the United Nations Security Council had begun discussing a draft resolution to extend MINUSMA’s mandate, which expires on June 30. It is not clear what will happen now.

The UN special envoy to Mali, Elgassim Wani, said on Friday that operating in a country without the approval of government authorities would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible”.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Daphne Psalidakis; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Otis)

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