A leading European diplomat believes there is still a chance to defuse the escalating political crisis in Mali, which has repeatedly criticized the country’s interim military government with its neighbors and members of the international community in recent days. See you struggling.
Emanuela Del Rey, the EU’s special representative for the Sahel, criticized Mali’s current rulers for provoking countries in the region and Europe by postponing elections for five years and bringing in Russian mercenaries to help with security.
But in an interview with VOA on Friday, Del Rey said he thinks coup leaders will eventually have no choice but to bow down.
“I think, of course, that despite the fact that the government is so determined to say that they want this long transition because maybe they want to stay in power for a long time, the pressure will be so strong that at one point they Will have to compromise,” she said.
Del Rey praised the sanctions targeting Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union, describing them as coherent and consequential, and called on the international community to keep pressure on the interim government.
At the same time, however, he and other European officials continue to talk to Malian officials and expect Mali to attend a meeting in Brussels later this month.
“The EU wants to be consistent with this approach to sanctions… it wants to be firm in that sense,” Del Rey told the VOA. “At the same time, he also wants to keep the doors open for dialogue.”
“I am sure there will be talks. There will be a dialogue,” she said.
Thousands of supporters of Mali’s military government took to the streets in the capital Bamako on Friday, calling the ECOWAS restrictions unjust.
“These illegal and illegitimate measures have three purposes: to destabilize institutions, to destabilize the Mali military, and to destabilize Mali,” Prime Minister Choguel Maga told the crowd.
“But they must not forget that Mali is a lock, Mali is a dam. If Mali bangs, and God help us, it will not burst, but if it does, then no one will have peace in Echowas Will get it,” he said.
Many protesters praised the military government for standing with France, while others waived the Malian flag and some even waived the Russian flag.
The appearance of the Russian flag is likely to raise concerns in the West, with European countries and the United States repeatedly warning the military government against bringing in mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a paramilitary company with ties to the Kremlin.
“We have seen what they have done in the Central African Republic, violent behavior and human rights violations, so we have made it clear that we are completely against their interference in Mali,” a European official told reporters on Friday. ” Discuss the sensitive topic when asked about reports that several hundred mercenaries are now in Mali.
According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Mali’s military government has committed to paying Wagner $11 million a month – $132 million a year – for the services of 1,000 mercenaries, which is part of Mali’s annual defense expenditure. equals more than 20%.
Mali’s government has denied reports that it is using Russian mercenaries, but the move prompted other international forces sent to the country to help in the fight against Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. is being affected.
Sweden to take back
Sweden’s foreign minister said on Friday that her country would withdraw from the Takuba Task Force, a European special forces mission to Mali, and could withdraw up to 200 soldiers serving in Mali under the United Nations.
“We now know there is a Wagner group,” Sweden’s Ann Linde told reporters in Brest, France, after a meeting of EU foreign ministers. “If they have a stronger and stronger influence, it will not be possible to continue with those large numbers of soldiers on our side.”
Other European officials cautioned that additional troops could be drawn in if the situation worsened, and warned there could be regional implications.
“It cannot be accepted for its part to risk having a domino effect,” Del Rey told VOA. “Countries in the region, the G-5 countries, for example, fear that this may be an example that may somehow give other countries the idea of copying the situation.”
Despite these complications, Del Rey and other European officials insist they have no intention of leaving Mali or its neighbors in the Sahel.
“We are very concerned about the population of Mali, because they are already in such a situation,” Del Rey told VOA. They don’t deserve this position.”
Annie Risemberg contributed to this Bamako report.