Mali tells France to withdraw troops 'without delay' from West African nation

2022-02-19 19:32:19
Mali tells France to withdraw troops 'without delay' from West African nation

The government of Mali has asked France to pull out its forces from the West African country "without delay," casting doubt on Paris' plans to withdraw troops over several months.

The announcement came after Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, the spokesman for the country’s military-installed government, said in a statement that the results of France's nine-year military engagement in conflict-torn Mali were "not satisfactory."

Maiga described France’s plan for a prolonged withdrawal from the African country as a "flagrant violation" of accords between the two countries.

"In view of these repeated breaches of defense agreements, the government invites the French authorities to withdraw, without delay," he said.

Mali has also asked the smaller European Takuba group of special forces, which was created in 2020, to depart quickly.

On Thursday, France announced that it will withdraw thousands of troops from Mali due to a breakdown in relations with the country, a decade after launching a war without the initial approval of the United Nations or even the French parliament.

A statement signed by France and its African and European allies said "multiple obstructions" meant the conditions were no longer in place to operate in Mali.

The decision applies to both the 2,400 French troops in Mali, where France first deployed in 2013, and the European Takuba group of special forces.

Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated since the ruling military took power in August 2020.

French President Emmanuel Macron said at a news conference on Thursday that France's bases in Gossi, Menaka and Gao in Mali would be closed within the next four to six months.

Mali's armed forces spokesperson Souleymane Dembele shrugged off France's announcement, saying European troops had failed to curb militancy.

Mali's prime minister earlier this month blasted France for attempting to divide his country during a foreign military mission against terrorist groups.

Choguel Kokalla Maiga, head of the government that came to power in June 2021, said the French intervention "later turned into a de facto partition of the country."

Countries in West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in France’s supposed counter-terrorism efforts and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.

The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatists started targeting the local population in Mali.

Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.


Error! Error occured!