Africa

UN urged to press Mali junta over summary executions

Mali's interim President Assimi Goita was the target of an attempted stabbing attack during Eid al-Adha prayers at Bamako's Grand Mosque, the West African nation's presidency said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations to pressure Mali in talks on Saturday to investigate summary executions and disappearances allegedly carried out by the security forces.

The call came ahead of the scheduled arrival later in the day of a UN Security Council delegation in the capital Bamako to press the authorities to allow a civilian administration to take over following two coups in under a year in the West African country plagued by jihadist attacks.

The delegation includes representatives of China, India, Russia and the United States and is due to visit Niger on Sunday.

The 15 representatives will meet “senior members of Mali’s transition government and civil society groups working to strengthen Mali’s democratic institutions”, a US statement said.

“The visit will help the delegation better understand Mali’s political and security challenges and to ensure the process of returning the country to a democratically elected civilian government by February 2022 continues as planned,” the US mission to the UN said.

“Malian authorities should investigate a spate of alleged summary executions, enforced disappearances, and incommunicado detentions by government security forces,” HRW said in a statement on Friday night.

The New York-based group also called for inquiries in abuses committed by all parties to the conflict in Mali.

HRW gave the example of 14 men last seen in September in the detention of the security forces and who have since “disappeared or are being held incommunicado”.

It also noted the discovery, close to an army camp at the central town of Sofara, of “the bodies of three men allegedly executed after their arrest by soldiers in early October”.

“Mali’s transitional government shouldn’t be standing back while its soldiers are linked to a wave of abuses,” HRW Sahel director Corine Dufka said in the statement.

Mali, a poor and landlocked nation home to at least 20 ethnic groups, is battling jihadist attacks and intercommunal violence.

Since 2012, the Islamist insurgency has swept into central Mali and spilled over into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The conflict has left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, despite military interventions by the United Nations and France.

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