Macron in Mali for his 1st tour outside of Europe

For his first trip outside of Europe, the president and Emmanuel Macron visits Friday on the basis of Gao in Mali, to give a new dimension to the military commitment of France, has for the past four years to combat the jihadists .

Less than a week after his inauguration, the head of State not only wants to mark his “determination” to continue the commitment to the Sahel but also enroll in a strengthened cooperation with Germany. It wants to complement the military action by a strategy of development aid, said his entourage, as the claim of humanitarian organizations.

He will be accompanied by his ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian (Europe and foreign Affairs) and Sylvie Goulard (minister for the Armed forces), as well as by the director general of the French development Agency (AFD) and Rémy Rioux. 25 journalists will also be moving, so that a dozen companies of journalists, directors, editors, and Reporters without borders protested on Thursday against the organization of its communication, including the choice of journalists accompanying him in Mali.

Address to the soldiers

Upon his arrival, he will be welcomed by malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, with whom he had an interview on the fight against terrorism, the record of the sahel, the political aspect of the matter and the difficult implementation of the peace agreements in 2015.

The new head of the armed forces also apply to the 1600 soldiers deployed on the basis of Gao (north) in the framework of the operation “Barkhane”, and will present the various components of the device, according to the same source. The Élysée has chosen the Gao because it is the most important base of the French forces engaged at the outside.

More than that the ex-president François Hollande (2012-2017), his successor wants to put the emphasis, according to his entourage, on international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, with the other european countries, notably Germany, the first contributor to the united Nations Mission in Mali (Minusma).

France wants “an impulse to franco-German Europe plays a growing role in the records of security and defence, including those of Africa and the Sahel”. A question already raised on Monday with Angela Merkel.

Out of the “purely military”

The other new axis displayed: to articulate a more military approach with the development policies, as manifested by the presence of the director general of the AFD, pointed out the president’s entourage. It is this that require several humanitarian organizations, for which the only military approach will not solve the violence shaking the Country.

The French policy in Africa is too “purely military”, and must “invest in the governance sector”, particularly in “the fight against impunity” in “redirecting its assistance towards justice”, argues the international Federation of leagues of Human rights (FIDH), condemns Mali, “a level of insecurity is unprecedented.”

Same diagnosis for the humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch, which calls on the president Macron to “urge the president of Mali to address frontally the problems that have led to decades of instability, including weak governance, endemic corruption and the abuses committed by the forces of order.”

Northern Mali had fallen in march-April 2012 under the thumb of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda, which have been largely driven out by an international military intervention launched in January 2013 at the initiative of France.

Deadly attacks

But whole areas are still in control of the malian armed forces, the French and the UN, regularly subject to lethal attacks, despite the signing in may-June 2015 of a peace agreement supposed to isolate definitively the jihadists . Since 2015, these assaults spread to the centre and to the south of the country, where the security situation is deteriorating more and more.

Ten-seven French soldiers have been killed in Mali since the intervention Serval in January 2013, which was succeeded in August 2014, operation Barkhane (4000 men), spread over five countries of the Sahel (Mali, Burkina-Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad), according to a count by the AFP.

In Mali, the 1600 French soldiers are in addition to the 12’000 soldiers of the Minusma.
In January, a suicide bomber targeting combatants of armed groups signatories to the peace agreement had made nearly 60 dead in the city of Gao. (afp/nxp)

Created: 19.05.2017, 04h42

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