UN vote to end Mali peacekeeping mission delayed

A Security Council decision to halt a UN peacekeeping deployment in Mali, at Mali’s request, has been postponed until later this week, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

On June 16, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop surprised the world by requesting that the UN withdraw its Minusma peacekeeping mission immediately.

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While the consent of the host state is one of the cornerstones of peacekeeping, according to diplomatic sources, a resolution produced by France recommends a six-month term for the evacuation of the more than 12,000 soldiers and police stationed in the West African nation.

According to one diplomatic source, a vote set for Thursday was postponed to Friday, the last day of Minusma’s current mandate, due to ongoing consultations between Council members, the UN, and Mali.

Another diplomatic source told AFP that Mali had asked to shorten the six-month period.

The withdrawal would be more difficult if the time was reduced.

“Any effort to move thousands of peacekeepers, including all their equipment, all their facilities, all their supporting staff takes a period of time,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary general said on Monday, asking for a “reasonable timetable”.

The United States, which said it regretted the Malian decision, called for an “orderly and responsible withdrawal”.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization force in Mali, or Minusma, was established in 2013 to replace an African-led force while Mali was engulfed in an Islamist conflict that is still ongoing.

Despite deploying a big force and a $1.26 billion annual budget, it has been chastised for its inability to defend people from Islamist attacks.

Mali has been under military administration since an August 2020 coup – and has been dealing with a security crisis since 2012, when Islamist and separatist insurgencies broke out in the north.

Mali’s military rulers have increasingly imposed operational limits on peacekeepers, as well as shattered the country’s longstanding alliance with former colonial power France.

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