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Parliament Endorses One-year Extension Of German Troops In Mali Peacekeeping Mission

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The national Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bundestag has approved the participation of German soldiers in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Mali for another one year.

On Friday, 541 members of parliament voted in favour of the new mandate, while 103 voted against and four abstained.

At the request of the German government, the number of soldiers deployed to the West African nation will increase from 1,100 to 1,400 in view of the withdrawal of the French military from the region.

The decision follows a deterioration in French relations with Mali after its military junta reneged on a deal to organise elections in February, proposing to hold power until 2025.

The withdrawal applies to both 2,400 French troops in Mali and a smaller European force of several hundred that was created in 2020 with the aim of lessening the burden on French forces.

The Mali deployment has been fraught with problems for France. Out of the 53 French soldiers killed serving in West Africa, 48 of them died in Mali.
France President, Emmanuel Macron said that French bases in Gossi, Menaka and Gao would close but vowed the withdrawal would be carried out in an “orderly” manner.

After a French-led military intervention ousted jihadists who were taking control of northern Mali in 2013, French troops remained to provide support for anti-terrorist operations. But deteriorating relations with Mali’s new military leaders, who seized power in a 2020 coup, prompted France to reconsider its role in the country.

“Multiple obstructions” by the ruling junta meant that the conditions were no longer in place to operate in Mali, said a joint statement signed by France and its African and European allies.

Notably, for the first time, there is a withdrawal clause in the mandate for the German troops in Mali.

“If a sufficient level of supply and protection for German servicemen and women can no longer be guaranteed during the mandate period, measures shall be initiated to adjust the German contribution, up to and including termination of the mission”, the mandate stated.

The German calculus in relation to its contribution in Mali has complicated by French President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement earlier this year that French troops would withdraw from the country, citing a breakdown in relations with the ruling junta.

Germany is ready to increase its military contingent in Mali as part of the UN mission Minusma, a government spokeswoman announced Wednesday.

The First Deputy Spokesperson and Deputy Head of the Press and Information Office of the German Federal Government, Christiane Hoffmann said the current number of 1,100 soldiers has been increased by 300 to an authorized ceiling of 1,400, in particular to compensate for the departure of French forces.

She was speaking at the end of a meeting of the Council of Ministers which endorsed the extension of the mandate until May 31, 2023.

In a related development, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited soldiers stationed in Niger today, the second day of his Africa trip.

German marine commandos are training Nigerien special forces at a military base in Tillia to fight Islamist militants in the region.About 200 German soldiers are involved in the mission, which has been operational since 2018 and is part of the EU training mission EUTM.

The German training of Nigerien soldiers will continue until the end of the year. After his visit to the base, Scholz plans political talks in the capital Niamey.

The security situation is precarious in the entire Sahel region, which stretches south of the Sahara desert from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Several armed groups are active there, and some have sworn allegiance to Islamic State or al-Qaeda.

The instability is one reason why thousands of people from the region are making their way to Europe.

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