European force “deeply regrets” Mali telling Danes to leave

sky news africa European force “deeply regrets” Mali telling Danes to leave


A European counterterrorism operation in Mali is telling the Malian transitional government that the presence of Danish troops on its soil is legal and is calling on the rulers in the volatile West African nation “to respect the solid grounds on which our diplomatic and operational cooperation are based.”

The move comes after the transitional government in Bamako told Denmark to withdraw its soldiers from the country’s north, saying no permission had been given for them to deploy there. A week earlier, a 90-person Danish contingent that includes a surgical team had arrived in Mali for a one-year deployment.

The statement, issued Wednesday by the 15-country Task Force Takuba, “deeply regrets” that the transitional authorities in Mali claimed that the Danish deployment had been made without a proper legal basis and consent from the Malian government.

The Danish Foreign Ministry earlier had said President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had requested in 2019 that Denmark send troops to join the Takuba effort. But less than a year later, Keita was deposed in a military coup.

The ministry in Copenhagen said the Danish contribution also had been approved by the current transitional government led by coup leader Col. Assimi Goita.

A statement Wednesday from Mali’s transitional government spokesman Col. Abdoulaye Maiga, said that a request from the Danish government to deploy troops had been under consideration but not approved.

“No agreement has authorized the deployment of Danish special forces as part of the Task Force Takuba,” it said. Denmark must immediately pull its forces from Mali, it added.

After seizing power in August 2020, Goita initially pledged to uphold Mali’s international agreements but recently has shown signs of reluctance, at one point even temporarily grounding U.N. peacekeeping flights in the north.

Over the past 18 months, Goita has solidified his control, naming himself president of the government that was supposed to organize new democratic elections by the end of next month. Now Goita says that won’t happen until 2024, prompting Mali’s neighbors to impose punishing economic sanctions this month.

Mali has been battling an Islamic insurgency in the north since 2012, and former colonizer France led a military operation in 2013 to force the insurgents from power in the major towns of northern Mali.


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