The United States strongly denounced Thursday in a press release Mali’s desire not to apply the provisions of the new mandate of the UN Minusma force, adopted the day before by the UN Security Council. “The United States is deeply concerned by the statement by the Malian transitional government expressing its intention to deny Minusma the freedom of movement necessary to carry out its mandate”said in this press release the American ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “To do so would be a flagrant violation of the status of forces agreement. (SOFA) that the transitional government is required to respect”she added.
On Wednesday, after a vote extending the UN peacekeeping mission by a year, including an obligation to investigate alleged human rights violations by jihadist groups, the Malian army or its Russian paramilitary backers, Mali had affirmed that he could not guarantee the freedom of movement of blue helmets for investigations without prior agreement from Bamako.
“Any attempt by host countries, foreign security personnel or other actors to block the freedom of movement of peacekeepers can seriously compromise their security and jeopardize the mission itself”insisted Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “Freedom of movement is essential for Minusma to carry out the tasks entrusted to it by the UN Security Council” since 2013 as part of a mission authorizing the use of force and including investigations into possible human rights violations, recalled the American diplomat. “We urge the transitional government to immediately and fully assume its responsibility as the host country of a UN peacekeeping operation and to respect the terms of the SOFA agreement”she concluded.
According to diplomats, the Minusma has been restricted in its freedom of movement since January, a period which coincided with the deployment in Mali of paramilitaries from the private Russian company Wagner. The Minusma has thus been unable so far to go to the locality of Moura (center), where a massacre of several hundred civilians by Malian soldiers helped by foreign fighters would have occurred between 27 and 31 March, according to NGOs.