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Mali withdraws from military pacts with France

May 3, 2022

In a long-expected decision, Mali's ruling junta has pulled the plug on a number of military accords with France. French soldiers and European partners are on track to leave the West African country by the end of summer.

Mali soldiers sit in the back of a military pickup truck
Thousands of French troops have been deployed since 2014 to fight alongside members of the Mali Armed ForcesImage: Souleymane Ag Anara/AFP

Mali's military junta on Monday said it was withdrawing from military accords it signed with France nearly a decade ago.

The West African country broke off the agreements it signed in 2014, when then French President Francois Hollande said he had decided to intervene in Mali to fight against Islamist insurgency.

The junta's announcement had been expected for some time, ever since France and other European partners announced their decision to withdraw from Mali in February after fighting jihadi violence in the country for nearly 10 years.

"For some time now, the government of the Republic of Mali notes with regret a profound deterioration in military cooperation with France," junta spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said in a televised statement.

In announcing its decision in February, France laid the blame on the country's deteriorating political situation and repeated coups.

There was a surge in violence after France decided to pull troops, with relations between Paris and Bamako deteriorating even further

For its part, Paris "considers that this decision is unjustified and absolutely contests any violation of the bilateral legal framework," a French Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters.

"France will continue the withdrawal in good order of its military presence in Mali, in line with the commitments it has made to its partners," the spokesman said.

Mali accuses France of violating national sovereignty

Mali's ruling military junta has condemned "flagrant violations" of its national sovereignty by departing French soldiers.

Government spokesman Maiga cited multiple instances of the French violating their country's air space.

Mali seeks closer ties with Russia

Maiga also spoke about France's announcement to end military operations in Mali in June 2021, and its subsequent decision to pull troops earlier in the year.

Last month, Mali accused the French military of spying on a military base in northern Mali, after the French military released what it said was footage of a mass grave there.

France said Malian authorities and Russian-linked mercenaries were trying to accuse French soldiers of committing grave crimes.

rm,es/dj (AFP, dpa)