By John Ikani
The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (Minusma) has said it regrets the expulsion of its spokesperson by Bamako and pledged to continue fulfilling its mandate in the country.
Mali on Wednesday ordered Olivier Salgado to leave the county in three days over “unacceptable” statements on the controversial arrest of dozens of Ivorian soldiers in Bamako on 10 July.
Mr Salgado had said that Mali was notified of the arrival of the Ivorian soldiers, whom the military-led government accused of being “mercenaries” planning to destabilise the transition.
Mali suspended Minusma’s troop rotations shortly after, and allegedly barred eight soldiers from the German contingent from leaving Bamako.
Turbulent relations between Mali’s junta and the UN mission threaten to derail peacekeeping efforts and worsen the country’s instability.
A prominent pro-Russian activist group, Yerewolo Debout sur les Remparts, is expected to hold anti-Minusma protests on 29 July as it demands the departure of peacekeepers by 22 September, when Mali marks its independence day.