Mali said on Sunday it was withdrawing from a West African force fighting extremists to protest its rejection as leader of the G5 regional group, which also includes Mauritania, Chad, Burkina and Niger.
“The Malian government is deciding to withdraw from all organs and bodies of the G5 Sahel, including the joint force” fighting extremists, it said in a statement.
The G5 Sahel was created in 2014 and its anti-extremist force was launched in 2017.
A conference of G5 Sahel heads of state scheduled for February 2022 in Bamako was to mark “the beginning of the Malian presidency of the G5”.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or through the app.
But nearly four months after the mandate indicated that this meeting “has not yet taken place,” the statement says.
Bamako “firmly rejects the argument of a G5 member state that promotes the internal national political situation to reject Mali’s exercise of the presidency of the G5 Sahel,” the statement said, without naming the country.
The Malian government said that “the opposition of some member states of the G5 Sahel to the Malian presidency is related to the maneuvers of a state outside the region that desperately seeks to isolate Mali,” without naming that country.
Mali has been the target of a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions by West African states since January 9 to punish the military junta’s attempt to remain in power for several more years, following coups in August. 2020 and May 2021.
The junta has opted for a two-year transition while the Economic Community of West African States has urged Bamako to hold elections within 16 months.
Beyond Mali and Burkina, the G5 Sahel, made up of some 5,000 troops, includes Mauritania, Chad and Niger.
Military coups in Mali and Burkina Faso are undermining the operational capacity of the regional force, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the Security Council on May 11.
“I am deeply concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Sahel, as well as the potentially debilitating effect that the uncertain political situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and beyond will have on efforts to make the G5 Joint Force more operational. Sahel,” Guterres said. ‘ the report said.
Coups undermine Sahel anti-extremist force: UN chief
Mali opens investigation into mass grave near French base