Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga is expected to visit the northern city of Kidal on Thursday, March 22. This will be the first visit by a senior level government official to Kidal since May 2014. Maïga’s visit is part of the peace and reconciliation agreement that was signed in Algiers in 2015. The prime minister is also expected to visit other major cities in the northern and central regions in the coming week. According to media reports, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) will be responsible for providing security during Maïga’s visit. Increased security measures are anticipated in Kidal and the region in the coming days.
Tensions remain high between the Tuareg pro-separatist CMA and the central government. The CMA has controlled Kidal since May 2014, when fighting escalated between the Tuareg militias and the Malian army in the area after a visit by then-Prime Minister Moussa Mara.
Due to the presence of various armed groups, Mali's northern and central regions remain unstable despite a French-led intervention launched in 2013 that drove many extremists from their strongholds. France maintains approximately 4000 troops stationed throughout the Sahel. Additionally, MINUSMA is one of the largest such UN operations in the world.
The security environment in Mali remains complex, particularly in the north and central regions. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
Due to the underlying terrorist and kidnapping threats prevalent in the country, all those present in Mali are advised to remain discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times (especially in local markets, now used by terrorists as recruitment grounds), and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.
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