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24 Jan, 2022 22:14

Uninvited foreign troops must leave, African nation says

Mali says it did not agree to the arrival of Danish special forces
Uninvited foreign troops must leave, African nation says

Denmark must “immediately withdraw” the 90 troops it deployed to Mali last week “without [the government’s] consent and in violation of the protocols” allowing European nations to intervene in the African country, the government in Bamako said on Monday.

Around 91 Danes from the Jaeger Corps special forces arrived in Mali on January 18 as part of Task Force Takuba, a French-led counter-terrorism mission in the West African country. According to the Danish Defense Ministry, their job will be to reinforce the border with Niger and Burkina Faso, train Malian Armed Forces, and provide medical services to the peacekeepers.

While the government of Mali is grateful to “all its partners involved in the fight against terrorism,” it stressed “the need to obtain the prior agreement of the Malian authorities” before sending any troops to the country, according to a communique signed by Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, the spokesman for the Ministry of Administration and Decentralization.

Announcing the deployment of the force last week, the government in Copenhagen said it had been scheduled in April 2021, as France sought to withdraw some of its troops from Mali. 

Their objective was “to stabilize Mali and parts of the border triangle between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, and to ensure that civilians are protected from terrorist groups,” the Danish military said. 

The Jaegers are also experienced in “training and educating” local militaries, a job they have previously performed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were sent shortly after Sweden withdrew its contingent from Mali. The French-led operation also involves forces from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden. 

Task Force Takuba has operated in Mali since March 2020, when Paris decided to wrap up the previous Operation Barkhane. France has maintained a military presence in its former West African colony since 2013, to help the government in Bamako deal with a Tuareg rebellion in the northwest of the country and subsequent terrorist insurgency loyal to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). 

Relations between Bamako and Paris have grown chilly since the latest military takeover in Mali in 2021, and France has since closed three of its military bases there, in Kidal, Tessalit, and Timbuktu.

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