US News Sahel: There will be no immediate adjustment of the French presence, says Macron
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SAHEL-SECURITE-FRANCE: Sahel: There will be no immediate adjustment of the French presence, says Macron
PARIS (Reuters) - There will be no immediate adjustment of the French military presence in the Sahel, Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday at the G5 Sahel summit in N'Djamena.
"No doubt significant changes will be made to our military system in the Sahel in due course, but they will not take place immediately", declared the French president.
There is an increasingly strong will of our European partners to take part in the mission of the Takuba force, added the Head of State, who did not make the trip to the Chadian capital in due to the coronavirus epidemic.
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© AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU The representative of the United Nations Secretary General in West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, noted " divergences ”in view of the presidential election and invites“ dialogue ”. (illustrative image) Ibn Chambas, special representative of the UN secretary general in West Africa and the Sahel, has completed his mission in Benin. He met, civil society, electoral commission, Constitutional Court, opposition, majority, international community and the head of state.
Emmanuel Macron also said he wanted, over time, an evolution of the French military presence in the Sahel and an exit from an external operation logic.
Video: G5 Sahel: what strategy to win the fight against the jihadists? (Dailymotion)
On January 19, during his wishes to the armies, he opened the door to a reduction in the French military personnel deployed in the Sahel, without however specifying the extent or the timetable.
The Barkhane force which fights jihadist groups mainly in Mali and Niger currently has 5,100 soldiers, 600 of whom were sent as reinforcements a year ago after the Pau summit bringing together the French president and his allies of the "G5 Sahel".
The hypothesis of a withdrawal of at least 600 soldiers had been mentioned for several weeks by military sources, after the "severe blows" inflicted in recent months on groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the region known as "three borders" or Liptako-Gourma, which covers part of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
G5 Sahel summit: what future for Operation Barkhane?
© AP - Christophe Petit Tesson On board a Barkhane force helicopter, in 2017 (illustrative image). The G5 Sahel summit begins this Monday, February 15 in Ndjamena for two days. The five presidents of the Sahelian countries are all physically present in the Chadian capital. Invited to this meeting, the French president will participate in the work remotely, by videoconference. Emmanuel Macron has canceled his trip - officially - for health reasons.
In addition to continuing large-scale military operations in this area, despite the coup d'état last summer in Mali, the French army eliminated several jihadist leaders, including the historic emir of Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi) Abdelmalek Droukdel in June and the head of the group's military wing in November.
Paris obtained confirmation last year of continued American engagement and increased support from its European partners, with the start of Operation Takuba bringing together special forces from several countries, and the expansion of the mandate of EUTM, the mission responsible for training African armies, to which Germany and Spain will notably provide additional troops.
(Tangi Salaün and Claude Chendjou, edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)
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