Friday, August 12, 2022


German military mission to Mali suspended

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has announced that Germany's military mission in Mali would be halted until further notice. France is withdrawing a larger force from Mali, as the junta has hired Russian mercenaries.

Two German soldiers stood near planes at the Gao airport in Mali. Undated archive image.

The German government announced on Friday that its participation in the UN military mission in Mali would be suspended until further notice, after Malian authorities did not allow a German military plane access to its airspace. 

"Again those in power in Mali have not allowed the UN MINUSMA mission access to its airspace. A planned rotation of personnel is therefore not possible. That has effects on our engagement, given that the security of our soldiers has the highest priority," the Defense Ministry said on Twitter. 

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht criticized her opposite number in Mali's military government, Colonel Sadio Camara, in her attached statement. 

"Camara's actions speak a different language to his words. Therefore we must take measures and will halt the operations of our reconnaissance forces and CH-53 [a type of military cargo helicopter] transport flights until further notice," Lambrecht was quoted as saying. 

The Bundeswehr military withdrew around 60 soldiers from the country last month amid a similar dispute, when German armed forces were prevented from boarding a civilian flight by Bamako in an act Berlin described at the time as "harassment." 

2:13 min

Malians suffer under economic sanctions 

Frayed ties since 2021 coup

Mali's military overthrew a civilian government almost 15 months ago, one of three coups since 2012. At the time, it promised rapid elections. Currently, it claims to be planning to stage a vote in February 2024. 

Western forces, particularly from former colonial power France, had been present in comparatively large numbers in the troubled country for years. However, relations with the junta became increasingly fraught, not least after Mali's decision to bring in Russian mercenaries from the contentious Wagner Group late last year.

Mali has called the Russians "advisers," but in February, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a major shakeup of military operations in the Sahel. French troops had been acting in place of Malian forces in some battles with insurgents. While not all French soldiers will be withdraw, with more than half of a peak of 5,100 expected to leave, French forces that do remain will transition into more of a supporting role, leaving Mali's military to take the lead. 

The German forces in Mali are a large contingent of the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping mission. 

Berlin had extended the Bundeswehr deployment to Mali earlier this year, following a visit by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to the West African nation. Parliament also approved an increase in the upper limit of personnel that could be sent to Mali — from 1,100 to 1,400.

But earlier last month, Mali's government ordered the spokesman of the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, to leave the country.

msh/jcg (AFP, dpa)

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