UN appoints new Mali peacekeeping chief

Mahamet Saleh Annadif (C), pictured October 15, 2013 during his stint as director of the African Union Mission in Somalia, will be the United Nations' new peacekeeping chief in Mali, the body announced on December 23 2015 (AFP Photo/ILYAS A. ABUKAR)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations announced Wednesday it has appointed a new peacekeeping chief in Mali, amid criticism of the country's peace process.

Chad's foreign minister Mahamat Saleh Annadif will replace Tunisia's Mongi Hamdi, who held the position for just a year.

Annadif served as foreign minister from 1997 to 2003, a UN statement said, and has taken part in several peace processes in Africa, including in Niger, the Central African Republic and Sudan.

The 59-year-old diplomat also directed the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) between 2012 and 2014.

Annadif's appointment was first announced by diplomatic sources in Bamako. He will begin his new role on January 15.

Under Hamdi's watch, Mali concluded a landmark peace deal between the government and a Tuareg-led rebellion which has launched several uprisings since the 1960s.

But jihadist violence has intensified on the ground and the management of the transition to peace has been criticized by the international community.

With more than 1,100 troops and police, the Chadian contingent is the third-largest contributor to the 10,300-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping force, behind Burkina Faso and Bangladesh.

Deployed since July 2013, the UN mission has seen the most casualties since since that in Somalia from 1993 to 1995.