Paris, Feb 17 (EFE).- France and its European partners involved in Mali, in addition to Canada, on Thursday announced their coordinated withdrawal from the African country due to the “lack of cooperation” from the military junta in power in Bamako.
In a joint statement, countries operating with France’s Barkhane counter-terrorism force and the Takuba mission, a military task force of 14 European countries, said that “due to multiple obstructions by the Malian transitional authorities,” the allied forces “deem that the political, operational and legal conditions are no longer met to effectively continue their current military engagement in the fight against terrorism in Mali.”
Accordingly, they “have decided to commence the coordinated withdrawal of their respective military resources dedicated to these operations from Malian territory.”
The decision was taken at a meeting on Wednesday evening at the Elysée Palace with about 20 European and African leaders.
“We cannot remain militarily engaged alongside de-facto authorities whose strategy and hidden aims we do not share,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday at a press conference.
The group noted that they hope to maintain a presence in the region, where there are some 25,000 troops in total. France has some 4,300 military personnel in the region, including some 2,400 in Mali alone.
To contain the potential spread of terrorist groups’ actions to the south and west, international partners are considering expanding their support to neighboring countries in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa.
Forces will now reorganize alongside the Nigerian Army in the Malian border region, with the hub of European forces’ operations moving to Niger, in the so-called “three borders zone”.
Signatories include Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, the European Council, the European Commission, the Sahel Coalition and the African Union Commission.
The military junta in Bamako has been in power following the May 2021 coup d’état, the second in less than a year.
“France intervened in Mali first to fight terrorism and at the request of a sovereign state. That second condition has changed. Victory is not possible if it is not led by the state itself,” Macron said.
But the French president insisted that the withdrawal did not equate to a military “failure.”
“I completely reject this term,” Macron said.
The statement also outlined the European allies’ intention to continue supporting the Malian population and to address “the root causes of insecurity” in the country by mobilizing aid to meet both immediate and longer-term needs.
Barkhane was created in August 2014 as a successor to Operation Serval, which Paris launched in early 2013 to prevent terrorist organizations that had gained a foothold in northern and central Mali from gaining control of the entire country. EFE