Mali’s military government has given UN mission spokesman Olivier Salgado 72 hours to leave the country. The order comes after he tweeted that the Malian government had been informed of the arrival of 49 Ivorian troops as a support to a United Nations contingent. The soldiers were arrested on 10 July at the airport in Bamako.
Mali’s foreign ministry posted the statement on its social media accounts on Wednesday. The statement said Salgado was being expelled because of “unacceptable publications” on Twitter, where he claimed that Malian authorities were “notice the first 49 Ivorian troops to arrive” in Mali on 10 July.
The Malian government has said it was not informed of the arrival of troops and claimed in a July 11 statement that troops were present in Mali to “break the dynamics of Mali’s security and security”.
Troops arrived for what Salgado said in a tweet, “military support from one of our contingents”, although they were not present as official contingency forces for Mali’s UN mission, Minusma.
The soldiers were arrested upon their arrival at Bamako’s airport, with the government claiming they were “mercenaries”. Following the arrest, Mali suspended all rotation of UN forces in Mali until further notice. Ivory Coast has called for the release of soldiers.
MINUSMA has supported the Malian military in maintaining security in much of the country since its creation in 2013.
Tensions between the United Nations and Mali’s military government have been rising in recent months, with the UN being denied access in April to the city of Moura, where they wanted to conduct a human rights investigation into an alleged genocide.
When MINUSMA’s mandate was renewed in Mali during a Security Council meeting on 29 June, Mali’s representative to the United Nations stated that the government would not allow the UN to conduct any human rights investigations.