Mali accuses UN of ‘espionage’, calls for pullout of UN peacekeepers

Mali accuses UN of ‘espionage’, calls for pullout of UN peacekeepers

Mali’s ruling junta has asked prosecutors to probe the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA for “espionage” just days after the government in Bamako called on the United Nations to withdraw its peacekeeping mission from the West African country “without delay,” denouncing its “failure” to respond to security challenges.

These accusations come following a UN report which said hundreds of people were massacred last year by Malian troops and their allies. The Mali public prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday (20 June) a unit specializing in “terrorism and transnational crime” had received a complaint from the state over members of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA.

The junta’s complaint describes the members of MINUSMA as “co-authors or accomplices in crimes, among others, of espionage, harming the morale of the army or air force, use of false documents and harming external state security,” according to the statement. It also alleged the United Nations used satellites to gather information without government clearance — a technique, it said, that amounted to “espionage” and warranted investigation.

According to a report published last month by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which is based on an investigation into events that unfolded in the central town of Moura in May 2022, at least 500 people were executed by the Malian army and “foreign” fighters. The figures cited by the OHCHR amount to the worst atrocity Mali has experienced since a jihadist insurgency flared in 2012. The junta earlier denounced the report as “fictitious” and said the only dead were “terrorist fighters,” a term typically used to describe jihadists.

This comes only days after the West African nation’s military junta criticized MINUSMA’s ‘failure’ to respond to security challenges and called on the UN to withdraw its peacekeeping mission from the country “without delay.”

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