Paris, Jul 9 (EFE).- France’s president Emmanuel Macron on Friday announced a plan to begin the closure of French military bases in northern Mali during the second half of 2021.
It comes as part of France’s overall plan to reduce its presence in the Sahel, where it carries out operations and provides military support to local armed forces against jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Islamic State and Boko Haram.
“Now we begin a new stage in our commitment in the Sahel. Why this movement? Firstly because what we have achieved permits us to make it,” he said during a meeting with the five members of the Sahel security alliance, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
He said French forces were stationed in the Sahel on the request of the governments in the region, but that France did not wish to remain “eternally.”
He was gathered with the so-called G5 Sahel to discuss the withdrawal of French soldiers but emphasized his government’s continued support to allies in the region.
Niger’s president Mohamed Bazoum said the Sahel nations were in agreement with the action.
France has around 5,100 troops stationed in the Sahel to support the five nations in their operations against extremist groups. EFE