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3 May, 2023 20:47

Germany begins troop withdrawal from Mali – commander

The military has begun shipping the first components of about 1,300 container loads of equipment, according to Heiko Bohnsack
Germany begins troop withdrawal from Mali – commander

Berlin has begun the process of withdrawing soldiers from Bamako as the military commits to full departure by May 2024, Colonel Heiko Bohnsack, commander of the German troop contingent in Mali, said in an interview published by Tagesspiegel on Wednesday.

In keeping with our commitments to the United Nations, we have already started withdrawing individual components from Mali,” Bohnsack said. He added that about 1,300 container loads of security-sensitive equipment, including weapons systems and ammunition, are being shipped.

As part of the exit plan, he said the German mission intends to transfer permanent buildings to the UN as its force of more than 1,000 exits Gao, where their main duty has been to gather reconnaissance for the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

MINUSMA was established in 2013 to support political processes in Mali and carry out a variety of security-related tasks. However, the mission is said to have encountered difficulties in recent months amid growing discontent in Mali and its alleged deteriorating relations with Europe following a military coup in 2020. The junta leadership of the Sahel country has reportedly changed alliances and is now seeking military and political assistance from Russia to combat jihadist militants.

Last August, Berlin's Defense Ministry announced the suspension of its participation in the MINUSMA due to tensions with the military junta, which Germany believes are hindering the mission. The ministry cited as reasons for the move the Malian authorities’ denial of a German military plane’s airspace access and reports of “harassment” after their forces were prevented from boarding a civilian flight.

Meanwhile, the German government asked parliament on Wednesday to extend the mission by one year for the final time, with a maximum personnel limit of 1,400 Bundeswehr members. According to the template cited by AFP, the extension will cost 550.7 million euro ($608.9 million).