Mali welcomes French military pullout, vowing improved security

2022-08-20 08:58:34
Mali welcomes French military pullout, vowing improved security

Mali's government has welcomed the withdrawal of French military forces from the African nation, saying the pullout ushers in better security for its people.

"People's security will be considerably improved," said government’s spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga in a statement on Friday, insisting that the French withdrawal "reassures the Malian population that, thanks to the rise in power of the brave Malian forces, more successes will be recorded against the terrorist groups."

The government "takes note of this final withdrawal," Maiga added in the official statement after France said Monday that its last remaining troops had left Mali.

The development came days after Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop blamed French forces in his country for "acts of aggression" and sponsoring Daesh-linked terrorists.

In a letter to the president of the 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC) on Monday, Diop said that French forces had committed "frequent violations" of Malian airspace, suggesting that the intruding flights were aimed at "collecting intelligence for the benefit of terrorist groups... and to drop arms and ammunition for them."

He called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council in his letter in order to ensure that France “immediately ceases its acts of aggression,” in the form of the alleged violations of its sovereignty, support for terrorist groups, and spying.

“In the event of the persistence of this posture which undermines the stability and security of our country, Mali reserves the right to use self defense,” he said.

France, however, reacted to Mali’s complaint at the UN by slamming what it claimed as "increasing manipulation of information" about its military withdrawal.

Relations between Bamako and Paris have deteriorated following two military coups in the impoverished – though minerals-rich -- Sahel country since 2020.

According to Western press reports, the arrival of Russian paramilitary forces in Mali at the invitation of the provisional military government in Bamako was a key factor in France's decision to withdraw its occupation forces.

Meanwhile, Mali’s Defense Minister Sadio Camara paid a visit to Russia this week and was reportedly still there on Friday.

France's military occupation of Mali began in 2013 to allegedly counter militants that Paris claimed were linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups. Accordingly, the French government deployed thousands of soldiers to purportedly prevent separatist forces from reaching Bamako.

The war caused several thousand deaths and more than a million people to flee their homes. There have been two military coups in roughly a year, amid growing demonstrations against France’s military presence.

France has been a former colonizer in Africa, and, after years of outright colonization, still seeks control over countries spread over more than 12 territories and treats their people as second-class citizens. It has had more than 50 military interventions in Africa since 1960, when many of its former colonies gained nominal independence.


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