France suspends joint military operations with Mali over recent coup

Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of Malian military junta, attends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana.

France said on Thursday it was suspending its joint military operations with local troops in Mali as part of efforts to pressure the military juntathere to restore a civilian-led government.

Mali’s military arrested interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane last week and pressured them to resign, derailing a transition to democratic elections after another military coup last August.

Former vice president Assimi Goita, a colonel who led the August coup and last week’s revolt, was declared president on Friday.

“Demands and red lines have been set by (West African regional bloc) ECOWAS and the African Union to clarify the framework for the political transition in Mali. It is up to the Malian authorities to respond quickly,” France’s Armed Forces Ministry said in a statement.

“Pending these guarantees, France, after informing its partners and the Malian authorities, has decided to suspend, as a precaution and temporarily, joint military operations with the Malian forces, as well as national advisory missions that benefit them.”

ECOWAS and the African Union have suspended Mali from their organisations and threatened sanctions.

France, the former colonial power, has thousands of troops across the West African country as part of a wider counter-terrorism force targeting Islamist militants.

French forces will continue to operate in the country separately and the decision will be reassessed in the coming days, the ministry said.

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