France, African partners commit to new security plans beyond Mali

By AT editor - 17 February 2022 at 8:15 pm
France, African partners commit to new security plans beyond Mali

President Emmanuel Macron of France, joined by the leaders of Ghana and Senegal, made the long-awaited announcement on pulling out troops from Mali on Thursday.

“In the Sahel as in the Gulf of Guinea, the expectations of our partners have changed,” said Macron. “The sensitivity of public opinion in the countries of the region has also changed.”

France was one of 25 nations, including seven from West Africa and the Sahel, to sign a joint declaration on ending the presence in Mali while emphasizing a shift to security priorities shaped by increasing threats to West African nations. Niger will continue to host European troops as operations in Mali wind down over an expected four to six months.

“We cannot remain militarily engaged alongside de facto authorities whose strategy or hidden objectives we share neither. This is the situation we face today in Mali,” said Macron. “The fight against terrorism cannot justify everything.”

He added that security cannot be an “absolute priority” at the expense of democratic values, while pointedly noting that neither can it be used to “justify an escalation of violence through the use of mercenaries whose abuses are documented in the Central African Republic and whose exercise of force is not framed by any rule or convention.”

The shift comes as France wraps up a military commitment in the Sahel that began in 2013, one that became increasingly unpopular both at home and in Mali. While Macron has promised a drawdown since last year, the continued political unrest in Mali added to the complexity of the decision.

Macron, however, affirmed France’s commitment to the people of Mali while turning toward the future.

“In order to contain the potential geographic extension of the actions of armed terrorist groups towards the South and West of the region, the international partners indicate their willingness to actively consider extending their support to neighboring countries in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa, based on their requests,” said the declaration.

Image: Elysee


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