France on Thursday warned Mali that it would lose support from the international community if it struck a deal with Russian mercenaries.
Diplomatic and security sources told Reuters the one-year-old Malian military junta is set to recruit Russian group Wagner https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/exclusive-deal-allowing -russian-mercenaries-into-mali- is-close-sources-2021-09-13, and France has launched a diplomatic campaign to thwart it, claiming that such an arrangement is “incompatible” with a continued French presence. “If Mali engages in a partnership with these mercenaries, then Mali will isolate itself and lose the support of the international community which is strongly committed to Mali,” Armed Minister Florence Parly told lawmakers.
“It is not possible to cohabit with mercenaries.” Relations between France and its former colony have deteriorated over Wagner and since Paris announced in June that it would reshape its 5,000-person counterterrorism mission in the region.
The Malian Prime Minister accused Paris of having abandoned Bamako in a speech to the United Nations on Saturday. Reuters could not reach the Wagner Group for comment. “It is scandalous to try to make the whole world believe that France is leaving. To try to make believe that it is normal to call a group of mercenaries alongside Mali under the pretext that they are returned three military bases in the north are in bad faith, âParly said.
She said the prime minister’s comments were particularly shocking given the death last week of a 52nd French soldier in the Sahel. He will receive a national tribute on Thursday. French officials have said the junta is looking to Wagner as part of efforts to cling to power beyond the transitional period that is due to end after the presidential and legislative elections on February 27.
The French army began redeploying troops from its bases in Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu in northern Mali earlier this month, French army sources said. France wants to complete the redeployment by January. It is reducing its contingent from 2,500 to 3,000 from around 5,000 by 2023, transferring more assets to Niger and encouraging other European special forces to work alongside local forces.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)