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French President Macron Hosts African Leaders Ahead Of Expected Mali Withdrawal

 

President Emmanuel Macron hosts African leaders on Wednesday ahead of an expected announcement that France is withdrawing its troops from Mali after an almost decade-long deployment to battle a jihadist insurgency.

Multiple sources have told AFP that Macron will announce that French forces will leave Mali and redeploy elsewhere in the Sahel region, following a breakdown in relations with the ruling junta.

It remains unclear when, and how, Macron will make the announcement.

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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.

France initially deployed troops against jihadists in Mali in 2013 but the insurgency was never fully quelled, and new fears have now emerged of a jihadist 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.

It also coincides with Macron seeking to take a lead role in international diplomacy as he presses Russia to de-escalate in the standoff over Ukraine.

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Written by PH

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