Germany becomes the latest country to withdraw its troops from the UN mission in Mali after facing difficulties in recent months.
Germany will withdraw its troops from the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali by May 2024, a government spokesman said, becoming the latest country to announce its withdrawal from the rebellion-hit country.
The government will propose to parliament that Germany’s commitment to the MINUSMA operation be extended “in May 2023 for the last time by one year, to bring this mission to a structured end after 10 years,” spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement. on Tuesday.
The decision took particular account of Mali’s planned elections in February 2024, he added, following talks between Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz and his coalition partners, the Greens and the liberal FDP.
German military missions abroad require a mandate from parliament, which is normally granted annually.
The German military has been in Mali since 2013, with a presence of up to 1,400 soldiers as part of the MINUSMA mission, most based near Gao in the north.
But they have faced increasing difficulties in recent months, repeatedly having to suspend reconnaissance patrols after the military government denied them overflight rights.
There have been rising tensions between the UN mission and Mali’s military rulers following the alleged arrival of Wagner agents from Russia to bolster government forces.
‘Impact of withdrawals’
The United Nations said it had not yet received official notification of the German withdrawal, adding that MINUSMA and the people of Mali needed continued support from other countries.
“The mission is currently assessing the impact of these withdrawals on its operations and we are already in talks with several countries to fill the gaps,” said UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.
Last week the UK and the Ivory Coast announced they were withdrawing from MINUSMA, one of the UN’s biggest operations, and other countries have made similar announcements in recent months.
The UK said the West African country’s growing reliance on Russian mercenaries is undermining stability. He did not give a timetable for his retirement.
France this year withdrew its troops from the former French colony, deployed separately under its Barkhane mission in the Sahel. The force had helped provide air support to MINUSMA.
German troops were mainly involved in conducting reconnaissance.
The decision to withdraw from the UN mission and the precise timing had caused tensions within Germany’s ruling coalition, local media reported.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht of the Scholz Social Democrats and the military had been pushing for a withdrawal for months, arguing that Mali’s military rulers were preventing troops from Berlin from carrying out their mission, reported Der Spiegel.
But Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Green party opposed the withdrawal, saying the mission was necessary to protect the country’s civilian population and would damage Germany’s international standing.
The UN mission was created in 2013 to help stabilize the country, which was facing violence from armed groups in the north, which had spread to neighboring countries.
Mali’s president-elect, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was ousted in August 2020 by officers angry at their failure to push back an armed uprising that has killed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.
The following year, the military ousted an interim civilian government and began forging closer ties with the Kremlin.
The UN Security Council renewed MINUSMA’s mandate for one year on June 29, though the military government opposed requests to allow human rights investigators freedom of movement with the mission.