Mali protesters demand exit of UN peacekeeping mission

Several thousand demonstrators gathered in the country’s capital of Bamako on Thursday, demanding an end to a United Nations peacekeeping mission that they say has failed to bring peace.

Demonstrators held signs calling for the UN mission known as MUNISMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali) to leave the country.

The M5-RFP, the party of the transitional Prime Minister Choguel Maiga and civil society organisations supporting the transitional military government, organised the rally held at the Palais des Sports arena.

“It’s an evil force that needs to leave our land. It’s been of no use; it has failed to deliver. Give us a few weeks and we will drive them out of the country,” demonstrator Abdoulaye Diarra told Al Jazeera.

Thousands of people have been killed in attacks by armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda since 2013.

MINUSMA was established that year to support foreign and local troops battling the armed groups. With more than 14,000 troops on the ground, the UN mission in Mali is the biggest, costliest, and deadliest operation in the organisation’s history.

Malians initially celebrated the arrival of the UN peacekeeping force, but now say UN soldiers are the problem and not the solution. They blame it for failing to protect the population and not intervening when massacres were carried out near UN compounds.

Outside the capital, in the northern and central parts of the country where government presence is sparse, millions of Malians are still dependent on the UN mission for security.

More than 300 UN peacekeepers have also been killed.

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