Major General Mamadou Gaye to head MINUSMA

The senior Senegalese army officer will act as interim commander from 9 January until a new Force Commander takes office.End…

The senior Senegalese army officer will act as interim commander from 9 January until a new Force Commander takes office.End of mission for General C.J. Kees Matthijssen. The Dutch military officer who commanded the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has handed over to his Senegalese deputy, Major General Mamadou Gaye.


“General Gaye will act as interim commander from 9 January until a new Force Commander takes office. I would therefore like to thank you warmly for your presence here this afternoon to pay tribute to General Matthijssen and to express our strong support to the new interim Force Commander, General Mamadou Gaye,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and Head of MINUSMA, El-Ghassim Wane.


Speaking at the change of command ceremony held on Friday 6 January in Bamako, Mr. Wane said that this handover ceremony is taking place in a difficult security context.


This is evidenced by the multiple atrocities committed in the regions of Gao and Menaka against civilians, representatives of the State, the Malian Defence and Security Forces (FDSM), international forces and other actors including humanitarian actors. The situation in central Mali also unfortunately continues to be difficult, he added.


The UN official recalled that in 2022 alone, the UN Mission in Mali had recorded 26 fallen peacekeepers and 125 wounded. According to him, 276 peacekeepers have lost their lives since the deployment of the mission in 2013. MINUSMA thus has “the sad privilege of being the deadliest UN peacekeeping operation in the world.”


In the face of this grim backdrop and the many challenges that await the new interim commander, El-Ghassim Wane reiterated his full support and that of the entire Mission.


Before joining the UN mission, Major General Mamadou Gaye held very high responsibilities in his country. He was, among others, Commander of the National School for Officers and the School for Non-Commissioned Officers; Director General of the National Agency for the Social Reinsertion of Retired Military Personnel and more recently Deputy Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Armed Forces.


“General, since you took office as Deputy Force Commander in July 2022, you have brought a much-appreciated dynamic to your work. [Your constant commitment in the management of rotation issues, air cooperation and many other areas undoubtedly demonstrate that you are equal to the mission entrusted to you today. I remain convinced that your decades of leadership experience within the Senegalese army […] will be put to good use in the effective and efficient execution of the Mission’s mandate,” said Mr. Wane.


The year 2023 is a pivotal year for Mali with important electoral events (constitutional referendum, legislative and presidential elections in early 2024), but also for the implementation of political and institutional reforms, all in a security context that remains difficult.


The head of MINUSMA said that the mission will continue to support the diligent implementation of the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, which is an essential element in the stabilisation of Mali and its rebuilding. “Similarly, we will continue to support the implementation of the stabilisation strategy for the central regions adopted by the Malian government and the transition process, including the elections. We will continue to pay particular attention to the protection of the civilian population, which has suffered too much,” he said.


To achieve this, El-Ghassim Wane stressed the need to strengthen coordination with the Malian armed forces, while reiterating his solidarity with the people and authorities of Mali for all the suffering and tragedies that this country has experienced over the past 10 years.


He also recalled that the seriousness of the crisis in the Sahel calls for ever greater international mobilisation in support of the countries of the region as part of collective security. “Although the challenges that remain are considerable, they are not insurmountable,” he concluded.


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