No, says Paris, we do not “abandon” Mali

The French leaders denounce the recent remarks of the Malian Prime Minister. The latter accused France of “” abandoning “Mali, by reducing its military presence. This is false, reacted Paris.

The French authorities did not at all appreciate the recent speech by the Malian Prime Minister at the UN platform. The latter accused France of “to give up“Mali, by reducing its military presence. In his speech, Choguel Kokalla Maïga denounced a”lack of consultation“and a decision”unilateral“.

Reaction of Force Commander Barkhane

The new commander of Barkhane, General Laurent Michon, assured that, on the contrary, the decision to evacuate the French forces from their three northernmost positions in Mali had been carefully considered and discussed.

« The plan to leave Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu dates back to about two years ago, 18 months to two years ago. __It was drawn up with the heads of state of the G5 zone (G5 Sahel: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, Editor’s note), in particular in Bamako and Niamey with political authorities who know the project, who wish it, within the framework of the Peace Agreement », He indicated.

The French plan provides for an evacuation of Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu to refocus the troops around Gao and Ménaka, closer to the “three border zone”, on the borders of Niger and Burkina Faso.

« If the Prime Minister thus evokes the fact that we withdraw our symbolic presence in these three garrisons, it is absolutely not an abandonment, it is a relief on position “in military terms. In these three garrisons, the units of the Minusma, and especially those of the FAMas, are established, firmly established, and it is not a question of abandonment He said in reference to the UN Mission Blue Helmets (Minusma) and the Malian armed forces.

French government reactions

Same story at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

« The transformation of our military system in the Sahel is neither a departure from Mali, nor a unilateral decision and it is wrong to say the opposite. “, Declared the spokesperson for the Quai d’Orsay.

As for the French Minister of the Armed Forces, her reaction is even more virulent. Florence Parly denounces the “indecency“the words of the Malian Prime Minister, who spoke the day after the death of a French soldier in Mali.

« There is no French disengagement, I want to start by re-establishing untruths (…) When we have 5,000 soldiers and we disengage from three rights-of-way, and we intend to to leave several thousand more, when the latest armored vehicles are deployed in the Sahel (…) this is not the normal attitude of a country which intends to leave “, Argued the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly during a conference in front of students from Sciences-Po Paris.

Barkhane and Wagner

France had until then 5,000 soldiers engaged in the Sahel as part of Operation “Barkhane”. Their number should be reduced to between 2,500 and 3,000.

Seen from Bamako, it looks like a disengagement, and that is enough to justify the opening of discussions with the Russian paramilitary society “Wagner“.

French leaders have warned their Malian counterparts that the involvement of the Wagner group in Mali would be incompatible with a French military presence and that of other countries and international organizations on the ground.

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