Mali is expelling the spokesman of the UN’s peacekeeping force in the country over controversial posts he made on Twitter, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.
Olivier Salgado has been given 72 hours to leave over “tendentious and unacceptable” posts he made concerning a controversy involving Ivorian troops, according to a statement received by AFP.
The issue over Salgado, a French national, is attributed to 49 troops from Ivory Coast who were detained after landing at Bamako airport on July 10. The authorities have accused the troops of being “mercenaries”.
However, Ivory Coast said they were sent to provide a support role for MINUSMA, under a routine rotation.
The foreign ministry accused Salgado of Twitter posts “declaring without any proof that the Malian authorities had been previously informed” of their arrival.
In the same vein, the UN secretary general’s deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, said the UN “deeply” regretted the Malian decision.
“The doctrine of ‘persona non grata’ does not apply to United Nations personnel and is contrary to obligations under the Charter of the UN,” Haq noted. “MINUSMA and UN Headquarters are taking appropriate measures to follow up with the relevant authorities on this matter.”
Last week, the Malian government announced that it would suspend troop rotations by MINUSMA in its territory.
The suspension will last until a meeting is held to “facilitate the coordination and regulation” of the rotation of these contingents, according to the statement.
In response, the UN called for an “urgent settlement” to the dispute.
“Rotation of contingents is crucially important for the mission’s operational effectiveness and the safety and security of personnel,” Haq told reporters in New York. “All efforts must be made for an urgent settlement, especially since some of the staff concerned should have been relieved several months ago.”