Mali demands Denmark 'immediately' withdraw its forces

AFP , Tuesday 25 Jan 2022

Mali's military government on Monday called on Denmark to "immediately" withdraw its roughly 100 recently arrived contingent of special forces troops deployed in the troubled Sahel country.

A lorry carrying goods whose transport is not affected by the recent embargo imposed by Economic Community of West African States (CEDEAO) crosses into Mali from Tengrela, Ivory Coast, on January 23, 2022. AFP

The junta, which came to power in a coup in August 2020, said in a statement on state TV and published on social media that "this deployment was undertaken without consent".

The contingent of around 90 Danish soldiers arrived in Mali to join European special forces supporting the country's anti-jihadist operations earlier this month, Denmark's military said at the time.

Denmark's foreign ministry said in a statement Monday that they were "working intensely to bring more clarity to the situation" and were "in contact with the Malian transitional government".

"There is currently considerable uncertainty about the transitional government's announcement. The Danish contribution is part of the French-led operation in Mali, and we are therefore also coordinating closely and on an ongoing basis with our partners, not least France," the statement said.

The force, whose deployment was announced in April 2021, is stationed in Menaka in eastern Mali. Its mandate was due to run until early 2023.

Denmark has previously sent troops to participate in military interventions in Mali, some with the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping force and others with the French-led Operation Barkhane.

The new contingent is joining Task Force Takuba -- a 900-troop French-led unit launched in March 2020.

Other contributors are the Netherlands, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Italy and Hungary.

European countries have raised concern over the deployment of mercenaries from Russia's Wagner group on Malian soil and Mali's delayed return to civilian rule after a military coup in August 2020.

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