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.

The government will propose to parliament to extend the German commitment to the MINUSMA operation “in May 2023 for the last time by a year, to bring this mission to a structured end after 10 years,” spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement. statement on Tuesday.

The decision took particular account of Mali’s scheduled elections in February 2024, he added, following talks between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his coalition partners the Greens and the liberal FDP.

German military missions abroad require a mandate from parliament, which is usually granted on an annual basis.

The German army has been in Mali since 2013, with a presence of up to 1,400 soldiers as part of the MINUSMA mission, mostly stationed near Gao in the north.

But they have faced increasing difficulties in recent months, with them repeatedly having to suspend reconnaissance patrols after the military government denied them the right to flyover.

Tensions are rising between the UN mission and Mali’s military rulers following the alleged arrival of Wagner agents of Russia to reinforce government troops.

‘Consequences of recordings’

The United Nations said it has not yet received official notification of the German withdrawal, adding that MINUSMA and the people of Mali needed the continued support of other countries.

“The mission is currently assessing the impact of these withdrawals on its operations and we are already in talks with a number of countries to close any gaps,” said deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

Last week, the UK and Ivory Coast announced they pulled out of MINUSMA, one of the UN’s largest 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. It gave no timeline for the withdrawal.

France this year withdrew his troops of the former French colony, deployed separately as part of its Barkhane mission in the Sahel. The force had assisted in providing close air support to MINUSMA.

The German troops were mainly engaged in reconnaissance.

The decision to withdraw from the UN mission and its precise timing caused tensions within the ruling German coalition, local media reported.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht of the Social Democrats and Scholz’s army had been pushing for a withdrawal for months, arguing that Mali’s military rulers prevented Berlin troops from carrying out their mission, Der Spiegel reported.

But Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens spoke out against a withdrawal, saying the mission was necessary to protect the country’s civilian population and would damage Germany’s international standing.

The UN mission was established in 2013 to help stabilize the country, which has been battling violence from armed groups in the north that has spread to neighboring countries.

Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was overthrown in August 2020 by agents angry at their failure to reverse an armed uprising that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.

The following year, the military enforced an interim civilian government and began forging closer ties with the Kremlin.

The UN Security Council on June 29 extended its MINUSMA mandate for a year, even though the military government resisted requests for freedom of movement for rights investigators at the mission.

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