France and allied European countries are withdrawing their anti-militia forces from Mali after diplomatic relations broke down with the ruling junta, which has reportedly welcomed in hundreds of mercenaries from the Russian, Wagner Group.
A junta spokesman said in a statement announced on public television on Friday that the results of France’s nine-year military engagement in conflict-torn Mali were “not satisfactory”.
Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said a decision on Thursday by France and European allies to withdraw their forces from the West African nation was a unilateral move that violated military accords between Mali and France.
“In view of its repeated breaches of the defence agreements, the government invites French authorities to withdraw without delay, the Barkhan and Takouba forces from the national territory under the supervision of the Malian authorities,” Maiga said, speaking on national television.
Conflict is especially severe in northern Mali, where militants have killed dozens of civilians in recent weeks, while former separatists have grown increasingly impatient with the junta, which they accuse of failing to implement a 2015 peace agreement.
France and its European partners involved in the fight against militants in Mali decided to start the coordinated withdrawal of their military resources in the country.
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They agreed to set out plans on how to remain in the region, notably Niger and Gulf of Guinea countries by June 2022, a joint statement said on Thursday.
The joint statement was issued by countries operating with France’s Barkhane counter-terrorism force and the Takuba mission, which includes some 14 European nations.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the attitudes of Mali’s ruling junta had forced France to pull out and denied that its almost decade-long deployment had ended in failure.
Meanwhile, Relations between France and its former colony have deteriorated in recent weeks since the junta went back on an agreement to organize an election in February and proposed holding power until 2025.