Protests Against UN Peacekeepers Unfold in Middle of Mali National Holiday
13:59 GMT 24.09.2022 (Updated: 14:38 GMT 23.11.2022)
© AFP 2023 / OUSMANE MAKAVELIA supporter of Malian Interim President holds up the flag of Mali during a pro-Junta and pro-Russia rally in Bamako on May 13, 2022. - Several hundred Malians have gathered in Bamako to support the junta, the army and military cooperation with the Russians, AFP journalists report. (Photo by OUSMANE MAKAVELI / AFP)
© AFP 2023 / OUSMANE MAKAVELI
A military parade in Mali, featuring fighter planes performing a fly past, took place on 22 September to celebrate the country's Independence Day, commemorating when the African nation broke free from French imperialism in 1960.
Protests broke out in Mali’s capital city, Bamako, against UN peacekeepers while the country was celebrating its Independence Day on 22 September.
A huge crowd of protestors with Malian - and, occasionally, Russian - flags marched through the streets of the capital chanting anti-UN slogans.
"MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] has done nothing here. We want them to leave. We are here to show the international community that we no longer want MINUSMA. We don't care about MINUSMA. We love our country. We want our soldiers, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta," a protestor, cited by AfricaNews, said.
© Photo : Twitter screenshotProtests in Mali, 22 September 2022
Protests in Mali, 22 September 2022
© Photo : Twitter screenshot
"They can go back to their homes and stay there. We don't need their help anymore. Assimi Goïta [interim President of Mali since 2021] is enough for us. The Malian youth is enough for us," another ptotestor said.
MINUSMA has operated in Mali since 2013, aiming to “ensure security, assist the reestablishment of state authority and to promote human rights in that country,” according to a mission statement from the United Nations Peacekeeping force.
Last June, the UN Security Council extended MINUSMA's operations for a year until 30 June 2023, but for the first time without air support from France.
This year was the first time Mali celebrated its Independence Day with no French troops on its territory, as the French left the country after its 9-year Operation Barkhane in Mali, which was aimed, according to French officials, at fighting Islamist terrorism in the Sahel, a semi-arid region in Africa.
The end of Operation Barkhane in Mali was accompanied by the country's government blaming France for supporting terrorists inside the country.
On 14 May 2022, young Malians demonstrated in support of their army's leaders who were said to be pursuing a strategy at odds with French interests.
20 September 2022, 17:05 GMT
After the last French soldiers withdrew from Mali in August, France's Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu claimed that his country's presence in the Sahel and "reinforced cooperation with the countries of the area, eg Niger" will continue.
In the wake of leaving Mali, France move Operation Barkhane's headquarters to Niger.
On 18 September, demonstrators from Niger marched through the streets of that country's capital, Niamey, to protest against French troops who had been newly deployed in their home.
The protestors were holding banners saying “criminal French army - get out” and “The colonial army of Barkhane must go". Many of the protestors were carrying Russian flags.