Germany to Withdraw its Troops from Mali by May 2024

Berlin: Multiple sources said on Tuesday that the German government has decided to begin the withdrawal of its troops from Mali in mid-2023, to be completed by May 2024.

Berlin has stationed about 1,000 soldiers in Mali, near the northern city of Gao, where their main task is to gather intelligence for the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA.

The future of the German mission has been in doubt for some time due to recurring disputes with the ruling military junta in Bamako and the arrival of Russian forces in Gao, which added to Berlin’s uneasiness over the growing Russian military presence in Mali. On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, and Foreign Minister Annalena Bierbock met in Berlin to make a decision.

While the Ministry of Defense lobbied for the withdrawal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned against leaving Mali for the growing Russian presence and pressured German troops to stay. The May 2024 deadline, first reported by Spiegel magazine, marks an agreement because it means German forces can still be in place for presidential elections in Mali.

In June, the military junta in Bamako issued a pronouncement setting a two-year timetable, to be counted from March 2022, to hold elections and restore civilian rule. The United Nations said it has not yet received official notification of the German withdrawal, adding MINUSMA and the people of Mali required the continued support of other countries.

“The mission is currently assessing the impact of these withdrawals on its operations and we are already in discussions with several countries to fill any gaps,” deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

In mid-November, Britain turned into the latest Western country to declare the withdrawal of its forces from Mali, saying it would pull out its 300 troops from MINUSMA. MINUSMA was established in 2013 to support foreign and local troops battling Islamist militants, but there have been repeated instances of tension between the Malian authorities and the mission in recent months.

Europe’s ties with Mali have deteriorated since a military coup in 2020 and ever since the government invited fighters from the Kremlin-linked private military company Wagner Group to support its fight against the rebels. This prompted France to withdraw its troops earlier this year after nearly a decade in Mali.

The Wagner group began supplying hundreds of fighters to support the Malian army last year and has since been accused by human rights groups and residents of participating in a massacre of civilians – allegations it has not responded to.

By Archana

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