The UN expressed concern about the escalating military situation in northern Mali and the challenges posed by the junta to the ongoing UN mission withdrawal, potentially affecting the departure schedule for the blue helmets.
In northern Mali, the maneuvers continue between the Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) and the rebel Strategic Permanent Framework (CSP), which comprises movements that signed the 2015 agreement.
After airlifting several dozen Malian soldiers and Russian Wagner mercenaries to Tessalit on Thursday, about a hundred FAMA vehicles set in motion, leaving Anefis on Friday, heading for Kidal.
On Saturday, the CSP announced that they had reclaimed former checkpoints abandoned by the United Nations Mission, which began its withdrawal from Mali in July.
The control of these Minusma positions lies at the heart of the armed conflict, where both the Malian army and CSP have much to lose, according to researcher Ibrahim Maïga. As the Special Advisor for the Sahel at the International Crisis Group (ICG), he calls on the warring parties to agree to a ceasefire and accept mediation to resolve this issue.
Maïga suggests that “on one side, the signatory movements within the CSP need to recognize the legitimacy of the Malian state in regaining these bases, following UN directives and the Minusma’s status. In return, the Malian state should consider its commitments, particularly the security agreements it has with these signatory groups that define each party’s areas of presence.”
Are negotiations possible?
Maïga notes, “Minusma still possesses useful capacities that can facilitate various meetings between envoys of these different actors or among the actors themselves to initiate discussions leading to a ceasefire. Minusma is not the sole actor, it’s worth noting the visit by the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs on Monday, October 9, who likely conveyed a message from the Mauritanian president to Mali’s President Assimi Goïta. There is no shortage of actors today; the challenge lies in ensuring that each party in the conflict has some level of trust in these actors, and that is perhaps the most difficult and complex aspect.”