The French presence maintained but “not at any price”, specifies Jean-Yves Le Drian

“If we are in Mali, we stay there, but not under any conditions. The head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian was very clear after an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brest, when tension is at its height between the junta Mali and the European Union. The latter is preparing, in the wake of West African countries, sanctions against the Malian military who postponed the elections and the transition for several years.

The military engagement in the anti-jihadist fight in Mali by the French and Europeans will therefore not be done “at any cost”. “We are preparing sanctions against those who obstruct” the transition, had previously declared the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell during the final press conference. Malians responded massively this Friday to the call of the ruling junta in Bamako to demonstrate against West African sanctions.

The presence of the Russians, point of tension

“If we are safe to demonstrate, we must surely be safe to vote,” quipped the French Minister of Foreign Affairs while the junta led by Colonel Assimi Goïta argued for the persistent insecurity in the country to push back until the elections initially scheduled for February 2022 are five years away. Mali has been plunged into a serious security and political crisis since the outbreak of independence and jihadist insurgencies in 2012, and has experienced two coups in August 2020 and May 2021.

France, militarily present in Mali for nine years to fight against the jihadists, is in the process of reducing its manpower there while maintaining troops in the north of Mali in Gao, Ménaka and Gossi. The Europeans are present in the Takuba force, made up of special forces and nearly 900 soldiers strong, but the deployment of Russian instructors in recent weeks has aroused concern and anger. For the EU and France, they are mercenaries from the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. Jean-Yves Le Drian accused this group on Tuesday of “supporting” the ruling junta in Mali under the guise of anti-jihadist struggle.

Source: 20Minutes – Une by

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