Mali withdraws from regional anti-jihadist force

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Dutch special forces are patrolling an area in the Sahel.
Dutch special forces are patrolling an area in the Sahel.
  • Mali has quit the G5 Sahel security force after it was apparently blocked from assuming presidency of the group. 
  • The group, launched in 2014, includes Mauritania, Chad, Burkina and Niger.
  • Mali is struggling under sanctions imposed by other West African countries over the military's decision to retain power following multiple coups.

Mali's junta announced Sunday that it will quit a West African anti-jihadist force after it was blocked from assuming the presidency of the regional group.

The country's departure from the G5 Sahel security force deepens its isolation after its neighbours hit it with sanctions in January over perceived foot-dragging in restoring civilian rule.

Mali's diplomatic relations with western allies, including former colonial power France, have also deteriorated, especially over its recent rapprochement with Russia.

Earlier this month, UN chief Antonio Guterres said political instability and human rights violations in Mali and Burkina Faso were undermining the Sahel's anti-jihadist operations, and called for returning power to civilians as soon as possible.

READ | Banned French TV and radio broadcasters vow to continue reporting on Mali

But Mali's junta claims it is a victim of politicking.

"The government of Mali is deciding to withdraw from all the organs and bodies of the G5 Sahel, including the joint force" fighting the jihadists, Bamako announced in a statement.

It added, without naming that country:

The opposition of some G5 Sahel member states to Mali's presidency is linked to manoeuvres by a state outside the region aiming desperately to isolate Mali.

The G5 Sahel, which also includes Mauritania, Chad, Burkina and Niger, launched in 2014, with an anti-jihadist force added in 2017.

The group's heads of states were supposed to assemble in Bamako in February to see Mali assume the G5 presidency, but nearly four months later, this meeting "has still not taken place", the junta said.

Mali is struggling under sanctions imposed by other West African countries over the military's decision to retain power following multiple coups.

The junta has opted for a two-year transition, while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is pushing for 16 months maximum.

The military initially seized control in August 2020 as the country's decade-long jihadist insurgency inflicted a spiralling death toll and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

ALSO READ | Mali says 'dozen terrorists' killed in air strikes

A second de facto coup occurred in May 2021, when Assimi Goita pushed out an interim civilian government and took over the presidency.

The violence gripping Mali since 2012 has involved attacks by jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group, but also an assortment of self-declared militias and bandits.

In a May 11 report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Mali's vague transition timeline was hampering the G5 anti-jihadist force's ability to function.

"Among other issues uncertainty over the transition timelines in Mali and the 23 January coup d'etat in Burkina Faso significantly slowed down the Joint Force's operational tempo," said the UN chief's report, obtained by AFP.

Never miss a story. Choose from our range of newsletters to get the news you want delivered straight to your inbox.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No ways, I'm done
42% - 2521 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
21% - 1274 votes
Only certain circumstances
37% - 2269 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.