France, allies to withdraw troops from Mali

A French-led military intervention first ousted extremists taking control of northern Mali in 2013



By AFP

Published: Fri 18 Feb 2022, 5:01 PM

In a joint announcement from the Élysée Palace on Thursday, France and allied nations announced that they were withdrawing troops from Mali due to a breakdown in relations with the ruling junta after nine years of fighting an extremst insurgency.

After a French-led military intervention ousted extremists who were taking control of northern Mali in 2013, French troops remained to provide support for anti-terrorist operations. But deteriorating relations with Mali's new military leaders, who seized power in a 2020 coup, prompted France to reconsider its role in the country.

"Multiple obstructions" by the ruling junta meant that the conditions were no longer in place to operate in Mali, said a joint statement signed by France and its African and European allies.

“Victory against terror is not possible if it’s not supported by the state itself,” the French leader told a press conference alongside European Union and African Union officials.

Macron added that he "completely" rejected the idea that France had failed in its mission in the country.

The withdrawal applies to both 2,400 French troops in Mali and a smaller European force of several hundred that was created in 2020 with the aim of lessening the burden on French forces.

The Mali deployment has been fraught with problems for France. Out of the 53 French soldiers killed serving in West Africa, 48 of them died in Mali.

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Macron said that French bases in Gossi, Menaka and Gao would close but vowed the withdrawal would be carried out in an "orderly" manner.

African and Western leaders met in Paris late Wednesday to begin fleshing out plans for how to continue fighting extremist militants in the region amid new fears of a push toward the Gulf of Guinea.

Recent coups in Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso have weakened French alliances and emboldened extremists who control large swathes of the region.


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