France mulls leaving Mali if price of staying too high
France has hinted that it might decide to withdraw its forces in Mali growing anti-France sentiments in this west African country.
Speaking on Saturday, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said European states combating ‘militants’ in Mali will try to find a way to keep their mission going, but there are limits to the price that France is prepared to pay to remain there.
On Wednesday, the government of Mali told France to stop interfering in the affairs of its former colony and to keep its “colonial reflexes” to itself.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that the situation had become untenable, as the European allies agreed to draw up plans within two weeks on how to adapt their campaign, which covers Mali and the wider Sahel region, to changing circumstances.
“The conditions of our intervention, whether military, economic or political, have become harder and harder to manage,” Parly said. “In short, we are not prepared to pay an unlimited price to remain in Mali.” But she said the ministers from the 15 countries involved in the European special force were for now united in wanting to maintain the mission, “so we must determine its new conditions.”
The announcement comes days after a high-ranking French military officer was killed in a mortar attack on the Barkhane military camp at Gao in Mali.
Last December, hundreds of Malian protesters took to the streets in the capital, Bamako, to demonstrate against the French military presence in the West African country.
The protesters gathered in central Bamako, chanting anti-France slogans and calling for the total withdrawal of French troops from their country.
A French mission began operating in Mali in 2013 to allegedly counter militants but despite the presence of this mission terrorists continue to wreak havoc in the country and beyond.