Military junta in Mali lodges formal complaint of ‘espionage’ against UN mission
Mali’s ruling junta has lodged a complaint of “espionage” against the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission following a report that revealed the massacre of hundreds of individuals by Malian troops and their allies last year.
In a social media statement released on Tuesday, the public prosecutor’s office announced that a specialized unit focusing on “terrorism and transnational crime” had received a complaint from the state against members of the MINUSMA mission.
The investigation conducted by MINUSMA’s human rights division examined the events that took place in the central town of Moura from May 27 to May 31, 2022.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report last month, stating that at least 500 people were executed by the Malian army and “foreign” fighters.
The junta’s complaint accuses MINUSMA members of being “co-authors or accomplices in crimes, including espionage, undermining the morale of the army or air force, use of forged documents, and endangering the external security of the state,” according to the statement dated Monday.
The figures mentioned by the OHCHR represent the most severe atrocity suffered by Mali since the onset of the jihadist insurgency in 2012. It also stands as the most condemning document to date regarding Mali’s armed forces and their allies.
While the report did not explicitly identify the nationality of the foreigners involved, Mali has employed Russian paramilitaries that Western nations and others claim are Wagner mercenaries.
On May 14, the junta dismissed the report as “fabricated” and asserted that the deceased were solely “terrorist fighters,” a term typically used to describe jihadists.
Additionally, it accused the UN of employing satellite surveillance without government authorization—a technique it deemed espionage, warranting an investigation.
This accusation further exacerbates the deteriorating relationship between the junta and MINUSMA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
On Friday, Mali demanded the immediate withdrawal of the 15,000 peacekeepers from the UN Security Council, citing the “failure” of the ten-year-old mission to address security challenges. The mandate of MINUSMA is set to expire on June 30.
Since 2020, the landlocked country has been under military rule after army officers ousted its elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, due to dissatisfaction with his inability to combat the jihadist insurgency.
The junta subsequently established an alliance with the Kremlin, prompting France, Mali’s traditional ally, to withdraw its troops following the arrival of Russian personnel.
Source: Agence France-Presse