Bamako – The UN mission in Mali said on Thursday it had resumed flights over the Sahel region as part of efforts to fight jihadist rebels, after suspending them pending talks with the ruling junta.
A spokesperson told AFP the resumption was expected on Friday following what the UN mission known as MINUSMA described as “fruitful” talks over what UN sources said were new procedures for approving UN flights.
The UN said Monday that it had suspended all but medical evacuation flights in the war-torn country late last week.
The suspension coincided with a diplomatic standoff pitting the junta against the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and part of the international community.
The junta, which seized power in Mali in a 2020 coup, closed the borders to neighbouring Ecowas countries after the regional bloc shuttered its borders on January 9 as part of economic and diplomatic sanctions.
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At a news conference on Tuesday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric refused to say whether Mali’s new flight procedures were linked to the border closures.
“There are two things here: The procedures themselves, and there is the motivation for the procedures,” he said. “It’s not our business to get into the motivation.”
Mali’s interim government has not commented.
Ecowas imposed the sanctions in response to the junta’s refusal to hold promised elections next month, the military leaders instead saying they could remain in power for up to five years before restoring civilian rule.
Since the borders slammed shut, questions have lingered about the movement of military aircraft entering or exiting the country from neighbouring West African nations.
Germany’s defence ministry said on Thursday that Malian authorities had denied entry into its airspace of one of its Airbus A400M aircraft, which was en route to Niger.
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