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Bamako Boots UN Official


FILE: A U.N. vehicle patrols the streets before the polls open for the presidential election in Bamako, Mali. Taken July, 29 2018.

UPDATED TO ADD VOLKER TURK COMMENTS: The Malian interim government on Sunday said the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission's human rights division, Guillaume Ngefa-Atondoko Andali, had 48 hours to leave the country as he had been declared persona non grata.

The Mali government stated that the decision to expel Ngefa-Atondoko Andali was connected to his allegedly biased choice of civil society witnesses for U.N. Security Council briefings on Mali, the most recent of which was held on Jan. 27.

UN rights chief Volker Turk on Monday slammed Mali's expulsion of the top human rights representative in the troubled West African country, saying the work there was "more crucial than ever."

"I deeply regret the decision by the Malian authorities to declare my representative, Guillaume Ngefa, as persona non grata and to order him to leave the country in 48 hours. I have been very troubled by the intimidation and harassment he has faced in social media in recent months," Turk said in a statement.

The Malian authorities have come under pressure for alleged human rights violations and abuses reportedly perpetrated by Malian armed forces in partnership with the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group in Mali.

On Jan. 31, U.N. experts called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by both these forces.

The Malian government, which took power in a 2021 military coup, on Saturday released a statement that pushed back against some of the U.N. allegations and emphasized the authorities' commitment to respecting human rights in accordance with international and national law.

The U.N. mission in Mali MINUSMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Andali could not be reached for comment.

This report was compiled from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.