NICE, France ( Associated Press) – France on Thursday condemned the decision of the Malian transitional authorities to allow the deployment of the Wagner group, and accused Moscow of private military company funding for the use of mercenaries in the West African country. .
“We are aware of the involvement of the Russian government in providing material support for the deployment of the Wagner Group in Mali,” the French foreign ministry said in an emailed statement. It called on Russia to “return to a responsible and constructive behavior” in West Africa.
Mali has fought to contain the Islamic extremist extremism since 2012. The extremist rebels were forced from power in the country’s northern cities with the help of a French-led military campaign, but they regrouped in the desert and launched attacks on the Malian army. Associate.
In June, Colonel Asimi Goita was sworn in as chairman of a transitional Mali government after conducting his second coup in nine months. Mali is facing increasing isolation from the international community for grabbing power. The elections are to be held in February, but it is feared that it may be delayed.
“We regret the use of already scarce public funds by Mali’s transitional authorities to pay foreign mercenaries instead of supporting the Malian armed forces,” the French statement said.
The Wagner group has been accused by Western governments and UN experts of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic and involvement in the conflict in Libya. Both France and Germany have objected to the presence of their mercenaries in Mali.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the company has a “legitimate” right to stay in the West African nation because it was invited by the transitional government, and has insisted that the Russian government is not involved.
French troops have been present in Mali since 2013, when they intervened to oust Islamist extremists from power in the country’s north. That operation was later expanded to other countries, including Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, in an effort to stabilize the wider Sahel region.
In July, President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal of French troops to the Sahel force in early 2022, despite growing political instability in Mali and continued devastating attacks by Islamist militants in the region.
This year alone, hundreds of people have been killed in massacres targeting villages on the border between Niger and Mali.
France has said the Mali army is ready to take on the heavy lifting in northern Mali, but Macron promised his African allies after a meeting in July that his country would help fight groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Will continue to do
Along with France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania and other EU countries joined in condemning the deployment of mercenaries in Mali.