Accusations “Unacceptable” and “Indecent”, which come back to “To wipe their feet on the blood of French soldiers”. This is how the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, qualified, on Monday September 27, the remarks made by the Malian Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, against France, on Saturday September 25, at the tribune of the ‘UN.
“There is no French disengagement, I want to start by re-establishing untruths (…) When we have 5,000 soldiers and we disengage from three rights-of-way, and we intend to leave several thousand more, when we deploy state-of-the-art armor in the Sahel (…) it is not the normal attitude of a country which intends to leave ”, argued the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, during a conference in front of students from Sciences Po Paris.
The Malian Prime Minister accused, on Saturday, at the UN France of an “abandonment in full flight” with the reorganization of its military presence in the Sahel, and thus defended the decision of Bamako to initiate discussions with the paramilitary company private Russian Wagner.
“It’s a lot of hypocrisy, it’s a lot of bad faith, a lot of indecency especially because these remarks were made on Saturday September 25, or on Friday September 24 a 52e French military gave his life to fight terrorism in the Sahel ”, indignant Florence Parly. A French soldier deployed as part of the “Barkhane” force was killed on Friday in Mali.
“The objective” recourse to Wagner “Is not to keep the commitments made to the international community”, foreseeing that the military junta will return power to civilians by organizing elections in February 2022 in Mali, commented the French minister.
“I have the impression that the date” to which the Malian authorities, who came to power following a coup in August 2020, have committed “Doesn’t suit them perfectly, and they want to make it last. But from there to wiping your feet on the blood of French soldiers, it’s unacceptable ”, she said.
“The transformation of our military system in the Sahel is neither a departure from Mali, nor a unilateral decision and it is wrong to assert the contrary”, had earlier assured, on Tuesday, the spokeswoman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The adaptation of this device has been the subject of “Consultations with the Sahelian and Malian authorities since the Pau summit (France) in January 2020”.
Call for the organization of elections
Paris began in June to reorganize its military system in the Sahel, notably by leaving the northernmost bases of Mali (Kidal, Timbuktu and Tessalit) and by planning to reduce its personnel in the region by 2023 to 2,500- 3,000 men, compared to more than 5,000 today.
French force commander Barkhane also denied any lack of consultation and any abandonment. “The plan to leave Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu (…) was drawn up with the heads of state of the G5 zone ” (G5 Sahel: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad), said General Laurent Michon during a trip to Nouakchott, Mauritania, stressing that the peacekeepers of the UN Mission (Minusma) and the Malian army remained present in these three places.
France warned Bamako that the involvement of the Wagner group in Mali would be incompatible with its military presence and that of other countries and international organizations on the ground.
Paris also reiterated, Monday, at the UN its call for the organization of legislative and presidential elections on February 27 in Mali, in accordance with the commitments made to the international community by the junta in power in this country.
The Malian Prime Minister told Agence France-Presse on Sunday that they could be postponed for a few weeks or a few months.
“It is imperative to respect” this calendar, declared in a video pre-recorded and broadcast to the UN General Assembly the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, responsible for delivering France’s annual speech within this international forum.