Mali has withdrawn troops from regional counter-terrorism forces

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BAMAKO, Mali – Mali’s ruling junta has said it will withdraw from a regional terrorist force known as the G5 Sahel, further isolating itself under economic sanctions.

The G5 Coast Guard – which includes troops from the neighboring West African states of Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad – was created in 2014 and was actually deployed in 2017.

The rolling presidency of the force was due to return to Mali in February 2022, when a conference was to be held in the capital, Bamako. However, the meeting did not take place for about four months, the Mali government said late on Sunday.

Many neighboring states have protested against Mali’s ruling junta, which seized power in August 2020. In April, junta leaders said it would take at least two years to transform into a civilian, democratic regime.

“Some G5 Sahel states’ opposition to Mali’s president is linked to an extra-territorial state’s desperate goal of isolating Mali,” government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga told state TV late Sunday night.

“As a result, the government of the Republic of Mali has decided to withdraw all organs and bodies of the G5 Sahel, including the joint forces,” he said.

Mali has 400 to 600 troops in the G5 Coast Guard in the Mali region. The troops will remain in their current positions but will operate under the command of Mali’s armed forces, army spokesman Colonel Solomon Dembele said.

The G5 failed to deploy the initially planned 5,000 troops due to a lack of funding, but the group has served as a framework for regional cooperation on development and security policy.

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