France on Tuesday “regretted” Mali’s departure from the regional Sahel organisation G5 Sahel, saying the decision compromised regional efforts to fight terrorism and reflected the “isolation” of the ruling junta in Bamako.
The Malian authorities, at loggerheads with France and more broadly with European countries, announced on Sunday that they were leaving the G5 Sahel and its anti-jihadist force, accusing the organisation of being “instrumentalised” by “the outside world”.
“Like the European Union, France regrets this decision, which calls into question regional cooperation efforts to fight terrorism and promote development, and once again reflects the isolation of the transitional Malian authorities,” the Quai d’Orsay spokeswoman said in an electronic press briefing.
After Mali’s announced departure, the regional Sahelian organisation created in 2014 and whose force is composed of about 5,000 soldiers since 2017, is reduced to four countries: Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger.
This departure further isolates Mali from its neighbours as Bamako has been the target of economic and diplomatic measures by West African states since the beginning of the year to sanction the junta’s intention to remain in power for several more years, after two putsches in August 2020 and May 2021.
It also comes after the junta announced in early May the end of the 2014 cooperation treaty with France, as well as the 2013 and 2020 agreements setting the legal framework for the presence of the Barkhane anti-jihadist force and the Takuba grouping of European special forces, initiated by France.
Relations with Western states are deteriorating as Mali turns to Russia. France and its allies accuse the junta of using the controversial Russian private security firm Wagner, which Bamako disputes.
Asked about a foiled putsch attempt announced by the Malian authorities, Paris said it had “no information on this subject”.