Mali expels human rights chief from UN mission

Assimi Goita, leader of the military junta in Mali – PRESIDENCIA DE MALÍ

The military junta ruling Mali has ordered the departure from the country of the director of the Human Rights office of the UN mission (MINUSMA), Guillaume Ngefa-Atondoko Andali, on the grounds that he has engaged in «destabilizing and subversive» activities which contravene the duties of the post.

According to the junta, Andali has given voice in international forums to «usurpers who claim the title of representatives of Malian civil society,» referring to individuals who have spoken out against the authorities and put forward allegedly «misleading» versions.

The government, which has accused the MINUSMA leader of being biased, has informed that it has already notified the international mission this Sunday that Andali is «persona non grata» and must therefore leave the African country in less than 48 hours.

The junta has emphasized that it is ready to maintain a dialogue, but has marked as red lines the respect for sovereignty, the recognition of the «strategic» decisions that can be adopted and the taking into consideration of the «vital interests» of the Malian population.

The leader of the Malian military junta, Assimi Goita, had already put the spotlight on MINUSMA in recent months, calling for greater collaboration with the army in carrying out its operations.

MINUSMA has had ‘blue helmets’ deployed in the country since 2013, although relations have deteriorated following the coups led by Goita in August 2020 and July 2021 and the junta’s postponements in setting an electoral timetable for a democratic transition.

Mali has also distanced itself in recent years from its once European partners, leaning instead toward Russia and receiving mercenaries from the Kremlin-friendly Wagner Group. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is visiting the African country this week.