The nearly 5,100 soldiers of Operation Barkhane are once again uncertain about staying in Mali, after a second coup in nine months. In an interview with Sunday Newspaper, Emmanuel Macron is very clear: French troops will leave the country if the regime in Bamako goes “in the direction” of radical Islamism.
France militarily supports Mali, which has been facing a jihadist push from the north since 2012 before spreading to the center of the country. But Paris, like the EU, denounced Tuesday an “unacceptable coup” after the arrest of President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane decided by the country’s strongman Colonel Assimi Goïta.
“We don’t have a vocation to stay forever”
“To Malian President Bah N’Daw, who was very rigorous about the seal between power and jihadists, I said:” Radical Islamism in Mali with our soldiers there? Never in life! ” Today there is this temptation in Mali. But if it goes in that direction, I would withdraw ”. Emmanuel Macron also claims to have “sent the message” to the leaders of West Africa that he “would not remain at the side of a country where there is no longer democratic legitimacy or transition”. These leaders are meeting this Sunday to settle the thorny question of their response to the double putsch of the Malian military in nine months.
Emmanuel Macron also recalls having said for three years, “within several Defense Councils that we had to think about the exit”. At the G5 Sahel summit in Pau in January 2020, “I prepared a way out. I stayed at the request of the States, because I thought the exit was a point of destabilization. But the question arises, and it is not our vocation to stay there forever ”.
Wish for a Marshall Plan for Africa
Regarding Chad, where a Transitional Military Council (CMT) chaired by one of Idriss Déby’s sons, Mahamat, after his brutal death in April, Emmanuel Macron believes that “things are clear”. “We come to the aid and support of a sovereign state so that it is not destabilized or invaded by rebel and armed groups. But we are asking for transition and political inclusiveness, ”he assures us.
Emmanuel Macron also warns against a failure of a development policy in Africa. “I say it with lucidity, if we are complicit in the failure of Africa, we will be accountable but we will also pay dearly, especially in terms of migration,” he believes. He reaffirms that we must therefore “invest massively” at the end of the Covid-19 pandemic “with the equivalent of a Marshall Plan” and that the international community must have “the generosity to say that we are erasing part of debt to help Africans build their future ”.