“After that of Kidal, the hold occupied by the Barkhane force in Tessalit was transferred on November 13 to the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa). The last French soldiers left the site on November 15”, indicates a press release from the general staff.
“This transfer was gradual, controlled and closely coordinated with the FAMa and with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma), of which a contingent of several hundred soldiers is permanently deployed in Tessalit”, according to the document.
Paris undertook in June to reorganize its military system to fight jihadists in the Sahel, notably by leaving the northernmost bases of Mali (Kidal, Timbuktu and Tessalit) and by planning to reduce its personnel in the region by 2023. to 2,500-3,000 men, against more than 5,000 today.
The Kidal base was handed over to the Malians in mid-October. Now remains that of Timbuktu.
Relations between Paris and Bamako deteriorated on September 25, when the Malian Transitional Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, accused France, militarily engaged in Mali since 2013, of“abandonment in mid-flight”. Critics supposed to justify the possible recourse to the Russian private security group Wagner, described as close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, to compensate for the reduction in the wings of Barkhane.
The EU has found “a consensus” among its 27 member states to sanction the company of mercenaries, announced in this regard Monday the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.
But the French army insists for its part on good relations with the forces in Bamako. “The Malian and French units trained together for several weeks to share their know-how and prepare for full consideration of the influence by a reinforced company of FAMa”, she assured.
“Various reinsurance procedures were notably able to be implemented”, she added, greeting the “very good conditions for dialogue with partner forces”.