Mali—President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France and its allies in a European force will withdraw their troops from Mali after almost a decade.
“We can’t remain militarily engaged alongside de facto authorities whose strategy and hidden targets we do not share,” Macron told reporters at a briefing in Paris.
Mr. Macron said the decision to leave followed a breakdown in diplomatic relations, amid growing hostility from Mali’s governing military junta.
The forces will be re-deployed elsewhere in Africa’s Sahel region.
French troops entered Mali in 2013 under then-President Francois Hollande to stop al-Qaeda-linked militants from advancing toward the capital, Bamako. They ended up staying as violence spilled across borders.
President Macron denied that the mission had been a failure and insisted that France remained committed to combating Islamist insurgencies in the region. He added that Niger had agreed to host some of the withdrawing forces.
The planned withdrawal, which is expected to happen over a four- to six-month period, was announced following a meeting of European and African leaders at the Élysée Palace on Wednesday night.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, countries involved in the French-led Takuba Task Force said they had agreed to set out plans on how to remain actively involved in the region, most notably in Niger and the Gulf of Guinea countries, by June.
Last year, Macron announced the French mission in the Sahel would be gradually replaced by a new multinational European operation called Takuba, which was fully deployed in April 2021.
That formed part of Macron’s push for a more ambitious European foreign, security and defense policy that could operate independently of the U.S., including an army that could be deployed for crisis missions.
As France recalibrates its military efforts in a region where it was once the colonial power, it is seeking a new approach in its relationship to Africa. During the summit in Brussels, participants will discuss investments in green technologies, health, and farming