Ivory Coast to withdraw from UN peacekeeping mission in Mali

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Ivory Coast will gradually withdraw its troops from the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali by August 2023, according to an official letter seen by AFP Tuesday.

“By order of the government of Ivory Coast, the permanent mission confirms the progressive withdrawal of Ivorian military personnel and police deployed with MINUSMA,” says the letter sent to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.

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Rotations of Ivorian forces scheduled in October and November this year will no longer take place, the letter adds.

The rotations were to apply to a protection unit based in Mopti, to police and to military officers assigned to headquarters duties.

Troops and other personnel deployed in MINUSMA will not be relieved in August 2023 as scheduled, it added.

No official reason for the decision is mentioned but tensions between Abidjan and Bamako have soared since 49 Ivorian solders were arrested upon arrival at Mali’s airport on July 10 and branded mercenaries.

Three have since been released but the rest had been kept in custody on charges of attempting to harm state security. Abidjan insists the soldiers were sent as backup for MINUSMA.

Britain announced Monday it would cut short its troop deployment with MINUSMA in Mali after relations with the country’s Russian-backed junta soured.

“Two coups in three years have undermined international efforts to advance peace,” Defense Minister James Heappey told parliament.

“This government cannot deploy our nation’s military to provide security when the host country’s government is not willing to work with us to deliver lasting stability and security.”

In July, Egypt announced it was suspending participation by its 1,035 troops in MINUSMA.

MINUSMA was launched in 2013 to help one of the world’s poorest countries cope with a bloody extremist campaign.

It is one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operations, with 17,557 troops, police, civilians and volunteers deployed as of June, according to the mission’s website.

It is also one of its deadliest missions, recording 281 deaths, most of them through hostile acts.

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