Macron announces major troop drawdown from Sahel region in Africa

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jun 10, 2021, 11:43 PM(IST)

French President Emmanuel Macron Photograph:( Reuters )

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Macron said that he saw France's future presence as being part of the so-called Takuba international task force in the Sahel in which "hundreds" of French soldiers would form the "backbone."

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday announced major drawdown of country's military presence in Sahel region of Africa. He also announced end of existing Barkhane operation.

"The time has come: Our commitment in the Sahel will not continue in the same way," Macron told a press conference.

"We will undertake a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel," he added. "The framework will be made clear in the weeks to come."

Macron said that he saw France's future presence as being part of the so-called Takuba international task force in the Sahel in which "hundreds" of French soldiers would form the "backbone."

This would mean the closure of French bases and would also lead to use of special forces who would be focused on anti-terror operations and military training, he added.

France currently has 5100 troops in the arid and volatile Sahel region which stretches across Africa south of the Sahara desert and spans half a dozen countries.

The Barkhane operation dates back to an initial deployment undertaken from January 2013 as Paris intervened to stop the advance of jihadists in Mali.

Macron said the French drawdown had been decided because the "longstanding presence of France... cannot be a substitute for political stability".

For years Macron has tried to get Western allies to help shoulder the burden of an anti-terror fight in the Sahel where France, the former colonial power in the region, is the lead foreign presence. 

The killing in April of the veteran leader of Chad, a close Paris ally, and a coup in Mali last month have also underlined the threat posed by continued political instability in the region.

(With inputs from agencies)

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