Mali’s military government on Monday 24, January called on Denmark to “immediately” withdraw its roughly 150 special forces which recently arrived in the troubled Sahel country.
The Malian junta, which came to power in a coup in August 2020, said in a statement on state TV that the Danish deployment was carried without its consent.
Earlier in January, one hundred and fifty Swedish crack troops were deployed to Mali in support of a European special forces mission supporting the country’s anti-jihadist operations.
The special forces’ contingent was supposed to join Task Force Takuba — a 900-troop French-led unit launched in March 2020, with their mandate planned to run until early 2023.
The deployment was also meant to assist France in Operation Barkhane, a regional crisis management effort that is considered vital to Europe.
However, following Europe’s concerns over the deployment of Wagner Group – a Russian mercenary organisation on Malian soil and Mali’s delayed return to civilian rule after the coup, Sweden announced that it is withdrawing its troops from the Sahel region before the mandated end date, and will also review its participation in United Nations peacekeeping force.
In response to Malian demands, European nations are pushing back against the Malian military government’s demands.
A statement from nations involved in the French-led Task Force Takuba on Wednesday defended the deployment, saying the partners were acting “within a robust legal framework agreed upon by Mali’s sovereign government, including a formal invitation from the Malian authorities to international partners.”
The European countries called on Mali to “quickly remedy this situation at a critical time for Mali, when solidarity is required more than ever.”
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod on Tuesday had said his nation’s forces were in Mali “on a clear basis” and his government was seeking to clarify the issue.
“There is currently a difficult diplomatic discussion with the transitional government,” he added.