Mali | Military junta cancels defence cooperation agreements with France
Defence Redefined
Published on 03/05/2022 at 11:15

The military junta in Mali announced yesterday that it would cancel the defence agreements it had concluded with France and its European partners, foregrounding the rapid deterioration of relations between Bamako and his former allies in the fight against the jihadists.

Making reality the threat posed for months, the military junta that came to power in August 2020 announced that it was “denouncing” the so-called Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA), which defined the legal framework for the presence in Mali of the French force Barhan and the European Takumba as well as the defence cooperation agreement signed in 2014 by Bamako and Paris.

In a statement broadcast on state television, a spokesman for the military government, Colonel Abdullaye Maiga, referred to France’s “flagrant violations”, which was militarily involved in Mali’s national sovereignty in Africa in 2013.

Also read: 26 jihadists killed in Mali after joint operation with French forces

He referred to the unilateral decision of France to suspend the joint operations of the Armed Forces of the two countries in June 2021, in the February 2022 announcement, without any prior consultation with Bamako regarding the withdrawal of the Barhan and Takumba forces and due to the multiple violations of Mali airspace by French aircraft.

Bamako informed Paris about this decision yesterday afternoon. It will be implemented six months after the notification, he clarified, as APA MPA reports.

On the contrary, the denunciation of SOFA has an “immediate effect”. These are the 2013 agreement that defined the status of the French force Serval, later Barhan, and the supplementary protocol of March 2020 concerning the deployment of special forces of European states formed on the French initiative, the Takuba. There has been no official reaction from Paris so far.

It remains to be seen whether SOFA’s denunciation will have repercussions on Barhan’s evacuation, announced in February after months of tensions. The withdrawal of the French force is supposed to be completed in four to six months.

Also read: Mali | Denmark will withdraw its forces as junta demands

The authorities’ announcement in Mali further strained relations between former close allies, who fought against the spread of jihadist activity in the north of the impoverished Sahel country. Jihadist activity has spread to neighboring countries (Niger, Burkina Faso) and threatens to reach the Gulf of Guinea. 

Relations between Bamako and Paris deteriorated after the second military coup of the colonels in May 2021, against the President and Prime Minister they had appointed, following the cancellation of the colonels’ commitment to hand over power to citizens in February 2022.

Things got worse with the military junta’s rapprochement with Russia. France and its Western allies accuse the Mali authorities of hiring the controversial Russian private military company Wagner. Bamako denies this and talks about transnational cooperation.

Mali ousted France’s ambassador in January, while Foreign Minister, Abdoulayeh Diop, threatened Bamako to cancel cooperation agreements if seen fit. Mali demanded their amendments in December, ruling that certain provisions violated their national sovereignty. The colonels viewed the action of the French Air Force in the ethers of the African country with particular malice.

Also read: Greek soldiers en route to Mali (?)




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