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G5 Sahel force is ‘dead’, says Niger president, after Mali's departure

The G5 Sahel multinational force fighting Islamist insurgents in West Africa is ‘dead’, Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum says, following Mali's announcement that it was pulling out. Reuters

The G5 Sahel multinational force fighting Islamist insurgents in West Africa is ‘dead’, Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum says, following Mali's announcement that it was pulling out. Reuters

Published May 19, 2022

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Niamey: The G5 Sahel multinational force fighting Islamist insurgents in West Africa is "dead", says Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum, following Mali's announcement that it was pulling out.

The force, which includes troops from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, was set up in 2017 to counter jihadists who have swept across the Sahel region, killed thousands of people and forced millions to flee their homes.

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Mali's decision to withdraw followed a breakdown in relations with regional allies and with former colonial ruler France, spurred by the junta's reluctance to hold elections after two successive coups.

"The G5 Sahel is dead. The isolation of Bamako in West Africa is bad for the whole sub-region," Bazoum told French newspaper La Croix in an interview published on Wednesday.

A presidential spokesperson confirmed his comments, saying: "His position on the G5 Sahel is clear."

The force has been hobbled by a lack of funding and has struggled to reduce the violence. Mali's ruling junta announced on Sunday that it was pulling out, blaming a lack of progress in the fight against the Islamists.

About 2 400 French troops and 900 special forces in a French-led European task force are expected to leave Mali in the coming months. Niger has agreed to host some of them, giving it a more prominent role in the region's fight against Islamists.

Niger's tri-border region with Mali and Burkina Faso has been the epicentre of the insurgency by groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, which started in Mali a decade ago and spread.

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Reuters

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