France suspends bilateral military cooperation with Mali

Paris has gone from threat to action in Mali. Following the May 24 coup, which brought Colonel Assimi Goïta to power, France decided to suspend “As a precautionary and temporary measure” its bilateral military cooperation with this Sahelian country, confirmed in World, Thursday June 3, the Ministry of the Armed Forces. A decision which leads to a sine die stop of the joint operations carried out by the soldiers of the French force “Barkhane” with the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa).

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The announcement comes as Mali experienced its second coup on May 24 in just nine months. That day, the transitional president, Bah N’Daw, and his prime minister, Moctar Ouane, were arrested and then forced to resign by the men of Colonel Goïta, already authors of the putsch of August 18, 2020, which had overthrown President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, known as “IBK”.

The French decision to suspend its military cooperation with Mali also leads to the end of training activities carried out by the French with the military and the Malian security forces. “These decisions will be reassessed in the coming days in the light of the answers that will be provided by the Malian authorities”, we let know, Thursday evening, the Ministry of the Armed Forces.

The Malian army is thus cut off from two of its main supporters: France and the United States. In the aftermath of the putsch, the Americans had indeed announced the suspension of their assistance to the Malian forces.

“There is no longer democratic legitimacy”

Since 2014, some 5,000 men from the French operation “Barkhane” have been deployed in the Sahel, particularly in northern Mali, to fight the jihadist groups that are rife there, affiliated with Al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization (EI ).

But Emmanuel Macron had hinted, on May 30, during an interview with the Sunday newspaper, that he would not stay “Alongside a country where there is no longer democratic legitimacy”. In sight, also, of the French president: the profile of the new Malian authorities, whom he fears more open to “Radical Islamism”. “If it goes in this direction, I will withdraw”, had assured Mr. Macron.

The Malian soldiers who took over power knew they were under the threat of French sanctions. In the aftermath of the arrest of the Malian executive, Paris had threatened to take “Targeted sanctions” against the putschists if the transition process does not resume its “Normal course”. Since then, MM. N’Daw and Ouane, although released by the junta, were not reinstated in their positions. It was Colonel Goïta himself who installed himself as president of the transition. He must be sworn in on Monday, June 7, in Bamako, before appointing his future prime minister.

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Mali had already been suspended, a few days ago, from sub-regional bodies – the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – and from the African Union (AU) following of this new coup. The ECOWAS notably demanded the appointment of a prime minister who is not a soldier but a civilian and the respect of the date scheduled for the presidential election in Mali, set for February 27, 2022. “Requirements and red lines have been set by ECOWAS and the AU to clarify the framework of the political transition in Mali. It is up to the Malian authorities to respond quickly ”, we said to the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, Thursday in the early evening.

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