French Prez threatens to withdraw troops from Mali
Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron has threatened that the country would withdraw troops from Mali if political turmoil there leads to greater Islamist radicalisation.
It follows a second coup in nine months in the West African nation, the BBC reported.
Macron warned of the risk of Mali “moving towards” greater Islamist influence.
France has 5,100 troops in the Sahel region which has been a front line in the war against Islamist militancy.
French troops have been supporting forces in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad to battle militants in the Sahel region since 2013.
Macron told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that he had told regional leaders that France would not support countries where there was no democratic legitimacy or transition, and that France had no intention of keeping its troops in Africa forever.
For decades France has provided military support to back leaders of its former colonies in Africa, often sending troops or despatching air strikes to counter armed rebels.
The French President has for some time been muttering about reducing, or withdrawing, the more than 5,000 French troops in the vast and troubled Sahel.
He is frustrated about a lack of commitment from most other European countries to fight the multiple militant Islamist groups in the region. They are considered a threat to Europe, both in terms of possible jihadist attacks on the continent and illegal migration.
But Macron faces another dilemma related to recent political events in two countries where French troops are active, Mali and Chad. Mali has had two military takeovers in the past nine months. Chad has had one.
Macron has been demanding an end to military rule in both. In Mali, he has threatened to withdraw French troops if the political chaos and uncertainty leads to an increase in radical Islam. But he is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Although French forces and their allies have failed to defeat the jihadists, who are becoming increasingly active in the Sahel and neighbouring regions, the fear is that, if France leaves, Islamist militancy will become even more rampant.