News ID: 100127
Publish Date : 18 February 2022 - 22:15

Mali Orders France to Withdraw Troops ‘Without Delay’

PARIS (Dispatches) - Mali’s army-led government ordered France on Friday to withdraw its troops from the Sahel state “without delay”, calling into question Paris’ plans to pull out over several months.
A government spokesman added in a statement announced on public television that the results of France’s nine-year military engagement in conflict-torn Mali were “not satisfactory”.
France’s troops will leave Mali “in orderly fashion,” President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday, in response to the demand from Bamako’s ruling junta to leave immediately.
Macron told a media conference after a summit in Brussels that, while the French soldiers will withdraw in line with his announcement a day earlier, they will do so in a way to continue providing protection for the UN stabilization mission in Mali, MINUSMA, and other foreign forces in the country.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron had announced that he was withdrawing troops from Mali after a breakdown in relations with the nation’s ruling military junta.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply after Mali’s army seized power in a coup in 2020, and later defied calls to restore civilian rule swiftly.
The French pullout after nearly a decade is also set to see the smaller European Takuba force of Special Forces, created in 2020, leave Mali.
Macron had said the withdrawal would take place over four to six months.
Spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga called the French withdrawal a “flagrant violation” of accords between the two countries.
Tensions have been mounting after Mali expelled its French envoy over what the country described as “hostile and outrageous” comments by the former colonial power.
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.”
The Mali deployment has been fraught with problems for France. Of the country’s 53 soldiers killed in West Africa, 48 of them died in Mali.
The announcement comes at a critical time for Macron, just days before he is expected to make a long-awaited declaration that he will stand for a second term in April elections.
Macron’s priority will now be to ensure that the withdrawal does not invite comparisons with the chaotic US departure from Afghanistan last year.
A French mission began in Mali in 2013 to allegedly counter militants that Paris claims are linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups. France, a former colonizer of Africa, also deployed thousands of soldiers to presumably prevent separatist forces from reaching Mali’s capital, Bamako.
The war caused several thousand deaths and more than a million people to flee their homes. There have been two military coups in little over a year, amid growing demonstrations against France’s military presence.
France has been one of the world’s colonizing countries that after many years of slavery still controls countries spread over more than 12 territories and treats their people as second-class citizens.