07.04.2020 Mali

UN Security Council calls for release of kidnapped Mali opposition leader

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The UN Security Council on Tuesday called for the "swift liberation" of Soumaila Cisse, head of the Mali opposition, who was kidnapped in the northern part of the country March 25.

Cisse, 70, was captured while traveling in the Niafounke electoral district, in the Timbuktu region, while campaigning for legislative elections March 29.

In a statement, Council members also condemned "the terrorist attack" Monday on Malian government forces in which at least 25 people were killed and six injured in Bamba in the northern region of Gao.

Large swaths of Malian territory are still not under state control, and the military has endured months of deadly attacks by groups linked to Al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group as well as having to deal with communal violence and trafficking.

The statement called for the United Nations and the government to work together to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

It said the UN peace-keeping mission MINUSMA should "continue delivering on its mandate despite the pandemic, while ensuring the safety and security of its staff and peacekeepers."

The statement also repeated the Security Council's previous calls for greater cooperation between the government and armed group signatories of the country's 2010 peace accord.

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