Mali’s military-led interim government says it has canceled all military and defense cooperation agreements with France, a sign of a further deterioration in diplomatic ties.
The junta announced the decision in a statement on Monday, accusing France, the former colonial ruler of Mali, “blatant attacks” on its sovereignty.
The agreements include the 2014 Treaty on Defense Cooperation and the March 7-8, 2013 agreement that formed the basis for it the deployment of French troops as part of the so-called Operation Barkhane.
Read: Reality Dawns that Mali, France’s ‘divorce’ is clearly beyond salvage
There is also the Additional Protocol from March 6th to 10th, 2020 determination of the status of non-French detachments of the Takuba Task Force, among which 800 soldiers from a total of 10 European nations – Belgium, Czech e Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden – have been deployed in the Sahel.
A Much of Mali remains under the control of jihadists who launched their 2012 campaign in northern part of the landlocked country and later spread to neighboring countries Burkina Faso and Niger. The conflict has since caused a huge humanitarian crisis in the region, with thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes.
The French troops who were first deployed in 2013 and operate in five countries in the region: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.
Half of the Takuba Task Force is made up of French soldiers, increasing the number of French troops alone in Mali to over 5,000.
The diplomatic tensions between Mali and France first arose with the August 8, 2020 coup that overthrew the late French-backed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Relations soured with the second coup in 2021.
Read: Why the Sahel region is Africa’s problem child and growing fast
Mali’s junta- Leader Col. Assimi Goita made history, by having staged two coups in less than a year. After the first coup d’état, the military was forced to set up a civilian-led administration in view of the threat of sanctions from the West African regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). But nine months later, the army arrested the civilian transition leaders and reinstated the military.
In May 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron announced his intention to withdraw French forces from Mali. The French leader has been quoted in reports that France cannot cooperate with a “de facto government” whose intentions are unknown.
And in June 2021, France ended military cooperation with the Malian army.< /p>< p>Read: France Withdraws Troops From Sahel
Diplomatic tensions escalated further in January this year when the French ambassador to Bamako, accused by the junta of meddling, was expelled
In the same month, the Malian junta ordered Danish forces to leave the country following clashes with France. The Danish troops were challenged shortly after they landed. Mali claimed it was not informed prior to their deployment.
In its statement on Monday, the Malian government cited several reasons for ending military deals with France, including France’s “unilateral” decision to launch joint operations to expose the Malians Military.
“For some time now, the Government of the Republic of Mali has noted with regret a profound deterioration in military cooperation with France,” Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said in a televised statement.
He also cited “multiple violations of Malian airspace” by French-operated military aircraft.
Col Maiga is the Minister for Territorial Administrationand Decentralization and Spokesman for the Government.
Col Maiga is the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization. p>
Amid diplomatic rows with France and growing mistrust, Mali declared a no-fly zone for European troops. According to the government, it has counted a total of 50 violations of its airspace in four months.
The junta also said that despite repeated calls for the agreements to be renewed, it has never received any indication of a willingness to do so from part of the French authorities .
Even as pressure mounts on the Malian government to set a timetable for a speedy return to democratic rule, junta leader Goita remains defiant.
< p>In his Oath message, he reiterated his calls for the country to stick to a three-year transition plan.
He also commended the Malian people in the face of “unjust and inhumane sanctions” imposed by Ecowas.
“Therefore, all Malians must join hands and forgive one another so that we can defend Mali’s common heritage,” he said. “We must make sacrifices to defend the interests of the Malian people.”
Meanwhile, Western countries are concerned about Russia’s increasing influence in Mali. Although the Malian government has repeatedly denied this, the West says a Russian-backed security firm, the Wagner Group, deployed its forces fighting alongside Malian soldiers.
Last month, France accused the Russians’ involvement in a disinformation campaign against them after allegedly staging mass graves for victims of their operations and accusing French troops of war crimes.
This followed allegations of a massacre of civilians by the Malian army, with Russian backing, calls prompt for investigation. These allegations by France and its allies further angered Mali, which it described as part of a French smear campaign against the country.
Read: France accuses Russia of a disinformation campaign in Mali
On Tuesday should the United Nations Security Council to discuss the crisis in Mali at the request of Russia.
The deteriorating security situation in the Sahel has led to a similar coup in Burkina Faso.
< p>UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres , who is currently touring in West Africa, in the Senegalese capital Dakar over the weekend called for a speedy return to civilian rule by Mali, Burkina Faso and neighboring Guinea as part of efforts to restore peace in the region.