Mali's Ex-colonizer France is staying to 'fight terrorism'
Despite protests and dismissal, France asserts itself once again: Its military is staying in Mali, along with EU special forces.
A day after France's violation of Mali's airspace, Paris asserts that its military isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
On Friday, France made it clear that it is adamant about forcing its military presence in France to "fend off jihadist insurgency." However, the European former colonizer also said that it would not be staying if the situation were to escalate and lose control.
Mali's military junta has recently proposed to remain in power for a period of 5 years before the Malian elections, and this has been angering Paris. There have also been international demands to "respect a promise" to carry out with the elections in February.
There are thousands of French troops in Mali - as well as in Sahel countries that neighbor it - supposedly 'battling terrorism.'
France's foreign minister, Le Drian, weighed in, "We're in Mali and we're staying, but not under any conditions." The statement came at a news conference after Drian's EU counterparts met in Brest, northwestern France.
Since Mali's military takeover in 2020, their relationship with France has deteriorated.
On Friday, Malians protested against sanctions upon the request and encouragement of the military junta.
France used the crippling sanctions to push their political interest: "If it's safe enough to demonstrate, surely it is safe enough to vote," said Le Drian.
Western powers have been accusing Mali of taking in Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group. In response, the European Union suspended foreign aid to the African country.
About 900 soldiers from the European special forces - largely, the Takuba force - are in Mali based on France's demand "to look after security with its partners."
European Union chief Josep Borrell said Thursday that the deployment of mercenaries in Mali is "absurd."
The troops, as a pretext from the EU, are to aid Mali's army in acquiring the necessary combat skills to become 'self-reliant' - in other words, as per usual, the colonial entity looks to grant the African country its own vision of 'independence.'
The carrot and the stick?
While France claims its vision to help Mali achieve its independence, it has also slapped sanctions on the country already going through political and economic crises - sounds like the case of the abusive parent.
ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) imposed a slew of economic and diplomatic sanctions on Mali last week, including border closures and a trade embargo, describing the junta's intention to stay in power for several years as "completely unacceptable".
The regional leaders' meeting in Ghana came after months of rising tensions over the timeline for restoring civilian rule in Mali following two coups and a military takeover.
"The government of Mali strongly condemns these illegal and illegitimate sanctions," said the junta's statement.
It accused ECOWAS and UEMOA of being "exploited by extra-regional powers with ulterior motives," a clear reference to France, among other militaries.
The junta stated it "deplores the inhuman nature of these measures which affect populations already severely affected by the security crisis and the health crisis."
Faced with the West African embargo, the junta stated that it had made plans to ensure normal supplies "by all appropriate means" and urged the people to remain calm.