COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway announced Thursday that it will close its embassy in Mali, saying the withdrawal of a U.N. peacekeeping force from the West African nation “will have consequences for the security of Norwegian and other diplomatic missions and international organizations.”
In June, Mali Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop demanded that U.N. peacekeepers who have been grappling with an Islamic insurgency for more than a decade leave immediately, saying they had failed in their mission.
At the end of the month, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution terminating the mandate for the U.N. force, known as MINUSMA, and requesting that its withdrawal be completed by the end of the year.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said the embassy in Bamako, Mali's capital, will close by the end of the year and Norway will have ”to find other ways to follow up our interests in Mali moving forward.” The diplomatic mission also represents Norway in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.
Last year, Col. Assimi Goita, who had himself appointed Mali's transitional president, ordered French troops and a European Union force to leave the country.
The U.N. peacekeepers were a contingent of more than 15,000 in what has become one of the most dangerous U.N. missions in the world. At least 170 peacekeepers have been killed in the country since 2013, according to the United Nations.
Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Extremist rebels were forced from power in Mali’s northern cities the following year with the help of a French-led military operation, but they regrouped in the desert and began launching attacks on the Malian army and its allies.
The growing insecurity in Mali has increased instability in West Africa’s volatile Sahel region. Mali has had two coups since 2020 in which the military vowed to stop the jihadi violence.