France told to withdraw troops ‘without delay’
The Malian government called on France to withdraw its troops stationed in the west African state “without delay” on Friday after President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday that French soldiers would be brought home over the coming months.
“In view of these repeated breaches of defense agreements, the government invites the French authorities to withdraw, without delay,” Mali government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said on Friday.
Maiga labeled the French withdrawal a “flagrant violation” of accords between the two countries.
Macron announced the pullout of French troops from Mali on Thursday, while saying that the nearly decade-long military operation was not a failure.
“We can’t remain militarily engaged alongside de-facto authorities whose strategy and hidden aims we do not share,” he said, amid deteriorating ties with the Malian junta.
In January, the junta told France to rein in its “colonial reflexes” as Mali’s leaders requested that Danish forces leave the African nation, which continues to be afflicted by an ongoing jihadist insurgency.
Ties between Paris and Bamako took something of a nosedive after Mali underwent two coups in the space of two years and the ruling junta reneged on its promise to hold an election this February.
In late January, Mali sent the French ambassador packing.
French troops commenced Operation Barkhane in 2014, partnering with five former colonies in the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) and with support from a small number of European states.
The coalition’s aim was to stop the region becoming a safe haven for Islamist terrorist groups; however, Macron announced in July 2021 that the operation would end in the first quarter of 2022.
France had recently attempted to bring new partners on board to tackle Islamist insurgents in the Sahel region of Africa, with the creation of the European task force called Takuba. Norway, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, and Lithuania were all to send troops to Mali this year.