Mali junta breaks off from defense accords with France
The relations between Mali's junta and France continue to deteriorate exponentially.
Mali's junta declared on Monday that it was withdrawing from its defense treaties with former colonial ruler France, citing "flagrant abuses" of national sovereignty by French forces stationed there.
The announcement was the latest proof of deteriorating relations between Mali's junta and France.
“For some time now, the government of the Republic of Mali notes with regret a profound deterioration in military cooperation with France,” Spokesperson Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said in a televised statement.
Maiga cited numerous instances of French forces violating the country's airspace. He was referring to France's intention to stop joint operations with Malian forces in June 2021. He also mentioned France's intention to withdraw its soldiers from Mali in February.
On Monday afternoon, Malian authorities said they informed Paris of their decision. France has yet to respond officially to the junta's announcement.
Tensions between France and Mali's junta, which took power in August 2020, had been building for some time.
The agreements that have been terminated in Mali had once laid the groundwork for France's interference in Mali in 2014.
They were inked a year after French troops sent a substantial force to Mali to allegedly help the Malian armed forces in putting an end to terrorism.
France’s relationship with Mali deteriorated following massive international pressures on the junta. Paris has also objected to the regime’s rapprochement with the Kremlin.
Both France and the US have accused mercenaries from the Russian security firm Wagner of deploying in Mali, despite the junta's assurances that the Russians are simply military instructors assisting in the restoration of order.
On April 27, the Mali military accused the French army of “espionage” and “sabotage".
According to a government statement issued in Bamako, "Authorities have seen more than 50 occurrences of foreign aircraft, particularly those owned by the French military, purposefully violating Mali's airspace since the beginning of this year."
It went on to say that one of the most recent instances of "financial outrage" was the fact that "on April 20, 2022, French forces' drone on the Gosi base became unlawful."
Aside from espionage, French forces have engaged in sabotage by distributing bogus photographs accusing the Mali army of killing civilians.
The French army officially handed over the Gossi base, which housed 300 French personnel, to the Malian armed forces on April 19, as part of the withdrawal from Mali announced in February.
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry said 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.
Malian troops had reportedly found bodies buried near the base in the town of Gossi, which had been under the control of French forces until they handed it over to Mali this week.
France had sent troops to the western African country in 2013 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.