France’s President Emmanuel Macron hosted African leaders on Wednesday ahead of an anticipated withdrawal of French troops from Mali after an almost decade-long deployment to battle a insurgency.
Multiple sources confirmed that Macron will announce that French forces will leave Mali and redeploy elsewhere in the Sahel region, following a breakdown in relations with the military government.
The deployment in Mali of a European force known as Takuba, a project driven by Macron to spread the security burden in the troubled region, will also come to an end, the sources said.
The Mali deployment has been fraught with problems for France, with 48 of the 53 soldiers killed during its Barkhane mission in West Africa losing their lives in the country. Operation Barkhane is France’s largest overseas operation, with a budget of nearly €600m per year.
France initially deployed troops against insurgents in Mali in 2013 but the insurgency was never fully quelled, and new fears have now emerged of militants’ push to the Gulf of Guinea.
The announcement of the withdrawal comes at a critical time for Macron, just days ahead of a long-awaited declaration from the president that he will stand for a new term in the April elections.
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