Mali Orders MINUSMA Spokesperson to Leave Country in 72 Hours

Malian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday asked the spokesperson of MINUSMA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, to leave the country in 72 hours as tweets about a diplomatic incident has escalated tensions between the two sides.

Mali announced last week the temporary suspension of all new rotations of the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission for security reasons. The announcement came days after the Malian authorities arrested 49 soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire who they said have arrived in the country without permission.

Cote d’Ivoire said the soldiers were sent to provide support for MINUSMA, but Mali said it had no mission orders or any authorization to enter the country.

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In a statement released on Wednesday, Malian Foreign Ministry accused MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado of Twitter posts declaring “without any proof” that the Malian authorities had been previously informed of the arrival of the 49 soldiers.

Mali cannot “ignore these actions which undermine the partnership with MINUSMA and other partners,” said the statement.

The United Nations “deeply regrets” Salgado’s requested departure, deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.

MINUSMA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, was established in 2013 to support foreign and local troops battling militants.

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