Mali writes to UNSC over France violation of airspace

The government of Mali has appealed to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)to ensure that France immediately ceased its frequent violations of the Malian airspace.

In a letter requesting an emergency UNSC meeting on the matter,it said there was evidence that France used the violations to collect information for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition to them.

 It, therefore, cautionedFrance, as a permanent Member of the Security Council, to comply with international legality by respecting the relevant provisions of the UN Charter.

“In the event of persistence in this posture, which undermines the stability and security of our country, the government of Mali reserves the right to use self-defense, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,” it said.

Dated August 15, 2022, the letter was signed by the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdoulaye Diop, and addressed to the Chinese President, Zhang Jun, who is the UNSC President.

Describing the issue as a serious act that could undermine international peace and security, it saidthe repeated and frequent violations of Malian airspace had gone on for several months now.

He said the Malian national authorities had been witnessing French forcesflying airborne vehicles such as drones, military helicopters and fighter jets and  operating without authorisation from the Malian authorities.

“Since the beginning of the year 2022, the Malian Armed Forces (FAMas), equipped with new capacities, has recorded more than 50 deliberate cases of violation of Malian airspace by foreign aircrafts, particularly those operated by French forces, in various forms.

“In addition to acts of indiscipline characterised by refusal to comply with the instructions of the air traffic control services, there were cases of transponders being switched off in order to evade control,” it said.

The letter cited cases of tampering with flight documents, as well as cases of helicopters landing outside dedicated airfields zones without prior authorisation.

It said numerous flights of intelligence aircraft and drones flying at high altitudes had been recorded, which were engaged in activities considered as espionage, intimidation or even subversion.

It recalled that it was because of suspicions of destabilisation maneuvers by France that the Government of Mali firmly opposed France’s request for air support to MINUSMA.

That decision, it said, was to ensure that France would not use the UN mission as a pretext to carry out subversive operations aimed at weakening Mali and the Sahel region.

“Under international law, the Government of Mali believes that these actions by France constitute aggression, which is definedunder the United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) dated December 14th, 1974, as “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations…,” it said.

 BY TIMES REPORTER                   

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