A decade-long United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali is set to end on June 30 ahead of a Security Council vote on a draft resolution that will give the 13,000-strong operation six months to withdraw.

The planned end of the MINUSMA mission follows years of tensions between the U.N. and Mali’s military junta that came to a head this month when Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop asked the force to leave without delay.

The U.N. mission is credited with playing a vital role in protecting civilians against an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands.

Some experts fear the security situation could worsen when the mission departs, leaving Mali’s under-equipped army alone with about 1,000 Wagner fighters to combat militants who control swaths of territory in the desert north and centre.

The force has been criticised by Mali’s military leaders, who consolidated power over two coups in 2020 and 2021, and by civilians, for not doing more to stem the bloodshed.

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