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Mali asks France to withdraw troops ‘without delay’

Mali’s army-led government asked France on Friday to withdraw its troops from the Sahel state “without delay”, calling into question Paris’ plans to pull out over several months.

A government spokesman added in a statement announced on public television that the results of France’s nine-year military engagement in conflict-torn Mali were “not satisfactory”.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he was withdrawing troops from Mali after a breakdown in relations with the nation’s ruling military junta.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply after Mali’s army seized power in a coup in 2020, and later defied calls to restore civilian rule swiftly.

The French pullout after nearly a decade is also set to see the smaller European Takuba force of special forces, created in 2020, leave Mali.

France currently has some 5,000 troops deployed across the Sahel as part of its anti-jihadist Barkhane force — the majority in Mali.

Macron said the withdrawal would take place over four to six months.

Spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga called the French withdrawal a “flagrant violation” of accords between the two countries.

“In view of these repeated breaches of defence agreements, the government invites the French authorities to withdraw, without delay,” he said.

By: AFP

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