France lost 'legal basis' for military operations
In light of strained relations between France and Mali, the latter stresses that Paris no longer has any legal basis for its troops to stay in the West African nation.
Paris no longer possesses the legal basis for carrying out military operations in Mali after the West African nation withdrew from defense agreements with France, Bamako said late Tuesday.
The announcement came a day after the military quit several agreements underpinning French and European missions in Mali.
Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said it would take six months for the formal end of the 2014 joint cooperation agreement signed with France to take effect.
The legal end of agreements signed in 2013 and 2020 on France's Barkhane and Europe's Takuba operations in Mali, however, was effective immediately, he said.
"So, as of May 2, the agreement covering Barkhane and the agreement covering Takuba cease taking an effect with regard to Mali... which means that as of this moment, there is no legal basis for France to operate on Malian soil," Diop said.
France had sent troops to the western African country in 2013 under its Barkhane operation, with the stated goal of defeating jihadists in northern Mali and the Sahel. The operation ended in February following the deterioration of France's ties with its former colony.
The beginning of the end of its Mali's former colonizer's interference in the country started in August 2020, following a coup that took down Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga had accused France of abandoning his country with a "unilateral" decision to withdraw its troops and justified Bamako's search for "other partners" to boost security, which, in that case, was Russia.
Tensions peaked upon Mali's calls for Russia to help in the country.
Malian Defense Minister Colonel Sadio Camara received four military helicopters, arms, and ammunition from Russia, praising Moscow's reliability and seriousness.
Diop said Barkhane was already withdrawing from Mali, and France could continue to work on the pullout, though he did stress that "anything which takes place on the territory of a sovereign state should be discussed and agreed with the state which is in place."
The host state, "quite responsibly, will ensure that things are being carried out correctly and on time with what the government wishes to be appropriate," he explained.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in late April it supported Mali's intent to launch an investigation into suspected mass graves found near an army base that belonged to the French military until recently.
Moscow also said France should cooperate with Mali on the investigation, warning officials in France and the European Union not to shift the blame for the suspected killings on the Malian forces.