Mali and France clash at the UN Security Council meeting
Last Tuesday’s UN Security Council meeting in New York on Mali’s situation was overshadowed by disputes between Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop and French UN Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière. Diop again accused France of supporting jihadist groups in the Sahel by providing information and weapons, as well as violating Malian airspace. France rejected these accusations, citing the transparency of its years of operations. Diop had already raised the same accusations in a letter to the Security Council in August after the withdrawal of French troops, who had been present in Mali since 2013 as part of Operation Barkhane. At the meeting, he now demanded a special session of the UN Security Council in which the Malian government would present concrete evidence regarding the accusations against France. At the same time, he announced that Mali would use its right of self-defence if France continued to undermine its sovereignty and national security. He denied UN and other reports about human rights violations by Malian and Russian security forces. The reason for the UN Security Council meeting was the presentation of the UN Secretary-General’s report on developments in Mali since June this year. El-Ghassim Wane, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), summarised the most important findings of the report before the body. According to the report, Mali had, for example, made considerable progress in preparing a constitutional referendum with regard to elections in 2024, after the Malian military government was able to agree on a joint transition plan with the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) in July. At the same time, however, the security situation in the West African country would continue to deteriorate. Only at the beginning of the week, four UN peacekeepers had been killed by an explosive device while on patrol in the Kidal region in North-Eastern Mali. Despite the support of the Malian army by Russian soldiers and mercenaries of the Wagner Group, Islamist militants have managed to advance further into the north and east of the country since the withdrawal of France. The mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission, in which Germany is also involved, was extended for another year by the UN Security Council in June this year.
Madagascar’s foreign minister gets fired after positive vote on UN resolution
On Tuesday, Madagascar’s foreign minister Richard Randriamandrato was fired following a decision by Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina. No official reason was given for the move, but several sources, including Randriamandrato himself, report a connection with Madagascar’s approval of the 12 October UN resolution. The resolution, passed by the UN, contains a condemnation of Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories and was adopted by 143 of the 193 countries. The fired foreign minister is accused by his government of not having discussed the decision to speak out against the Russian annexation at the UN General Assembly with either Madagascar’s president or the country’s prime minister. Madagascar had previously repeatedly abstained from voting on the Russia-Ukraine conflict as part of a policy of non-alignment and neutrality. This year, the island state has expanded its military relations with Russia: Already in January, even before the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Antananarivo and Moscow had signed an agreement on military cooperation, which came into force on 25 March 2022 and, according to the Malagasy authorities, is merely an addition to earlier agreements. The agreement, the exact content of which has not been made public, is to deal with the renewal of armaments and the training of Malagasy soldiers, among other things. Since April, Russia has also had a new ambassador in Antananarivo who publicly supports the Malagasy government in its dispute with France over the Iles Éparses (Scattered Islands). The oil- and gas-rich islands in the Indian Ocean lie in Malagasy waters, but are politically administered by France. Russia does, however, not play a major role in Madagascar’s economic relations; the most important investors are China, the USA and the EU. The latter are said to have exerted pressure several times to get Madagascar to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine. Randriamandrato himself, meanwhile, stands behind his decision on the UN resolution, which he said was made in good faith and would not jeopardise the country’s interests. However, he has not commented on if he made this decision without consultation. Until a new foreign minister is appointed, Madagascar’s defence minister will take over.
In other news
The Senegalese soccer player Sadio Mané won the Socrates Award last Monday for social commitment in his home country. The Socrates Award premiered this year as part of the annual Ballon d’Or awards ceremony for the best footballer of the year and is awarded for civic engagement off the pitch. Mané is known in the football world for his investments in infrastructure in Senegal. For example, he funded a hospital in his home village of Bambali, donated to local schools and provided monetary support to the Senegalese government in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. In terms of sport, Mané did not leave empty-handed at the Ballon d’Or in Paris. He came in second only beaten by Frenchman Karim Benzema, who took first place.
The 15th edition of the film festival AFRIKAMERA – Current Cinema from Africa will take place from 8 – 11 November 2022 in Berlin. This year, under the theme Urban Africa, Urban Movies, the focus is on film productions that deal with issues of migration and life in the (African) diaspora. This year’s film festival will open with Adolf El Assal’s tragicomedy SAWAH and close with SALOUM, the latest feature film by Congolese director Jean Luc Herbulot.