President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday urged leaders of the G5 Sahel (Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, and Mauritania) to dismiss growing anti-French sentiment across the region if they wanted France’s military to continue its operations against Islamist militants.
He has equally invited the five leaders facing challenges from militant groups over to France on December 16 to discuss the issue.
The French leader who came to power in May 2017 and has visited Africa countless times, made the call at a news conference after a NATO alliance summit held in the United Kingdom.
“I want them (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania) to clarify and formalise their demands regarding France and the international community: do they want our presence and do they need it? I want clear answers to these questions,” Macron said.
“I can’t have French troops on the ground in the Sahel when there is ambiguity (by authorities) towards anti-French movements and sometimes comments carried by politicians,” he added.
Africans perturbed about foreign (France) military presence
Recently some Africans have been worried about the growing presence of French troops and other foreign troops on African soil to help fight militant groups and terrorism.
Some of the worries have let to protests against the presence military bases in African conflict ridden countries. An example is Mali in September this year, where thousands marched against the presence of French and other Western forces in their country.
France, is their former colonial power, it is the only Western country with a weighty military presence fighting armed groups and terrorism in most French African countries especially in Mali and the Sahel region.
France has a good number of bases in African countries hit by conflict – conflicts that have refused to end.
Questions have been raised about the success of the French military presence in these countries.
Last week 13 French soldiers were killed in a helicopter accident in Mali, during an operation against jihadist militants.
Paying tribute to the soldiers this Monday, president Macron said, “they died while fighting for France, for the protection of the people in the Sahel…”
President Emmanuel Macron has held several meetings with the G5 Sahel leaders to discuss security issues plaguing the region, ever since he was elected president. On December 16, they will meet to decide if this partnership will continue or not.