Mali wants to end cooperation with France: the military junta retaliates after the withdrawal of troops

The military junta responds
Mali ends its cooperation with France

Mali’s relationship with its former colonial power is growing stronger: France first announced the end of its deployment in the West African country, and now the Malian military junta says it has intends to dissolve all existing contracts and agreements.

The West African crisis state, Mali, wants to end its military cooperation with France. The termination of all contracts and agreements – a reaction to the announced withdrawal of French troops from Mali – will come into effect within six months, the military junta announced on Tuesday evening.

Due to strong political tensions, France and its international partners announced in February the end of the fight against terrorism in Mali and announced a coordinated withdrawal of approximately 4,300 soldiers. In May last year, the military in Mali, with its approximately 20 million inhabitants, overthrew the transitional government, which was to remain in place until elections on February 27, 2022. Putschist leader Assimi Goïta was proclaimed new interim president and does not want to hold elections for five years.

Junta spokesman Abdoulaye Maïga told state television on Monday evening that the military government had observed “a significant deterioration in military cooperation with France” for some time. He notably mentioned the violations of Malian airspace by France, the withdrawal of troops announced in February and the decision last June to put an end to joint operations with the Malian armed forces.

The Malian military junta has repeatedly threatened to terminate the contracts in recent weeks. These include the agreement that forms the legal framework for the French military operation and the European mission in Mali, as well as a treaty concluded with France in 2014 on defense cooperation.

Tension over Russian mercenary troops

Relations between the military government in Bamako and the former colonial power France had increasingly deteriorated in recent months. Tensions have been fueled by cooperation between the military junta and the Russian mercenary group Wagner. The company is seen by the West as an extension of the Russian government. The Kremlin does not agree with this account.

A number of armed groups are active in the Sahel region, which stretches south of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Some have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) or al-Qaeda terrorist groups. The EU training mission EUTM and the UN stabilization mission Minusma, in which the Bundeswehr is involved with a good 1,350 soldiers, are currently still ongoing in Mali. After the announced withdrawal of France, the missions are about to end. In Germany, however, there are plans to transfer some of the Bundeswehr soldiers stationed in Mali to Niger. About 200 German soldiers are already stationed there.

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