Germany will withdraw its troops from the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali by May 2024, a government spokesman said. This makes it the latest country to announce its withdrawal from the country affected by the rebellion.
The government will propose to Parliament that Germany’s commitment to the MINUSMA operation “be extended by one year for the last time in May 2023 in order to end this mission in a structured manner after 10 years,” said spokesman Steffen Hebestreit in a statement on Tuesday.
The decision took into account in particular the planned elections in Mali in February 2024, he added after 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 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, which is mainly stationed near Gao in the north.
In recent months, however, they have had increasing difficulties and had to suspend reconnaissance patrols repeatedly after the military government denied them overflight rights.
Following the alleged arrival of Wagner activists from Russia to strengthen government forces, tensions have increased between the UN mission and Mali’s military rulers.
“Effects of Withdrawals”
The UN said it had not yet received any official notice of the German withdrawal and added that MINUSMA and the people of Mali need continued support from other countries.
“The mission is currently evaluating the impact of these withdrawals on its operations, and we are already in talks with a number of countries to fill any gaps,” said Deputy UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq.
Last week, the UK and Ivory Coast announced that they were withdrawing from 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 increasing dependence on Russian mercenaries is undermining stability. She did not give a timetable for her withdrawal.
This year, France withdrew its troops from the former French colony, which was deployed separately as part of its Barkhane mission in the Sahel region. The force had helped to support MINUSMA from the air.
The German troops were mainly involved in reconnaissance.
The decision to withdraw from the UN mission and the exact timing would have led to tensions within the German governing coalition, local media reported.
Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht from the Social Democrats and Scholz’s military had been pushing for a retreat for months and argued that the military rulers of Mali prevented Berlin troops from completing their mission, reported Der Spiegel.
Foreign Minister Annalena Bärbock from the Greens, however, spoke out against withdrawing. She said the mission was necessary to protect the country’s civilian population and tarnish Germany’s international standing.
The United Nations mission was established in 2013 to help stabilize the country, which faced violence from armed groups in its north, which had spread to neighboring countries.
Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was overthrown in August 2020 by officials who were upset that it failed to reverse an armed insurrection that killed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
following year, the military ousted a transitional civilian government and began to establish closer ties with the Kremlin.
The UN Security Council renewed its MINUSMA mandate by one year on June 29, although the military government rejected requests to grant free movement to investigators dealing with the mission.