A compromise was reached on Wednesday, October 18th, regarding the repatriation of equipment belonging to Chadian peacekeeping troops stationed in Tessalit, Aguelhoc, and Kidal. This issue had been a hindrance to the disengagement of the Chadian contingent from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The Chadian military leadership had insisted on the simultaneous withdrawal of their personnel and equipment, stating, “We will not abandon our arsenal, the removal of our personnel and equipment must occur at the same time.” The deadlock has now been resolved.
The process of MINUSMA’s disengagement from the Aguelhoc and Tessalit bases in the Kidal region of Mali has been underway since October 16, 2023. These bases, along with the Kidal base, which MINUSMA is scheduled to vacate next month, are being sought after by both the Malian army and the rebels of the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP). Both sides, fully armed and ready, are pressing the UN mission to leave as quickly as possible.
Personnel and Equipment Withdrawal Simultaneously
A significant portion of the Chadian MINUSMA contingent in Tessalit had already been repatriated earlier in the week via air transport. However, the Chadian military had refused to evacuate all of their personnel, also present in Aguelhoc and Kidal, without the guarantee that the vehicles and weapons they had brought to Mali could also be brought back to their home country.
“There is no question of abandoning our arsenal,” explained the Chadian military leadership, emphasizing that “the withdrawal of our personnel and equipment must occur simultaneously.”
The issue at hand is that the transitional Malian authorities have been blocking the logistical convoys intended for the overland transportation of this equipment since September 24 in Gao. The reason cited is the “security situation” and the current offensive being conducted by the Malian army toward Kidal. “Approvals will be granted based on observed improvements,” insisted Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdoulaye Diop in an official statement on October 17.
This situation has led to tensions between the three parties involved: Mali, MINUSMA, and Chad. The Chadian military had informed the Malian authorities last week that the departure of their troops could not occur within the stipulated timeframe.
While MINUSMA expressed its commitment to adhering to the withdrawal schedule and even accelerating it, it also voiced concerns about potential delays due to this impasse. Minister Abdoulaye Diop, on the other hand, reminded the UN mission of its “obligation” to adhere to the established deadlines.