France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that the “conditions are no longer in place” to continue the fight against Islamist militants in Mali, adding that the country would continue to fight against terrorism in neighbouring countries.
“If the conditions are no longer in place so that we can act in Mali, which is clearly the case, then we will continue to fight terrorism next door with the Sahel countries, who ” Le Drian said.
President Emmanuel Macron has asked to re-organise French troops in the Sahel region.
“The president wants us re-organise. We aren’t going, but we will re-organise to ensure the fight against terrorism continues,” Le Drian said.
France that has already cut the number of troops in Mali aims a further reduction of numbers from around 5,000 to 2,500-3,000 by 2023. It is also considering withdrawing its troops from the West African country.
A French drawdown would mean the European special forces Takuba task force would also leave.
Mali’s military took power in 2020 and there has been growing tension between the rulers and international partners.
In December, 16 countries – mostly in Europe – condemned Mali’s decision to work with private military contractors from the Russian Wagner group.
Diplomats are saying that the political, operational and legal conditions to remain are becoming increasingly difficult. Regional and international leaders would meet Wednesday for dinner in Paris to hold discussions with President Macron ahead of an EU-Africa summit on Thursday.