Mali’s decision to withdraw from the G5 Sahel has caused a reaction from the European Union (EU).
On Sunday, May 15, Mali left the G5 Sahel, the regional organization of which it was a member, along with Mauritania, Burkina, Niger and Chad. Bamako justified this decision by the fact that the leaders of the G5 Sahel refused to let Mali assume the presidency of the regional organization, although the rule of the rotating presidency gives it the right to do so.
If within the G5 Sahel, the word seems to have been passed around so as not to comment publicly on the Malian decision, this is not the case for the European Union (EU), one of the main backers of this institution, which is supposed to serve as a framework for cooperation between member states in the fight against jihadist groups roaming several regions of the Sahel.
Through its High Representative, Joseph Borell, the EU said it takes note of the decision. The senior European official acknowledged that the “decision whether or not to join the G5 Sahel is up to each of the sovereign members,” but regretted this departure from an instrument which, according to him, “responded to a recognition by all its member states - including Mali - of the absolute need for enhanced cooperation and eventually regional integration, which are the only way to meet the multiple challenges of the region.”
According to Joseph Borell, Bamako’s decision to slam the door on the G5 Sahel “comes on top of other recent decisions to withdraw by the transitional authorities to withdraw” and is “even more concerned about the consequences of this choice on the security of the people of Mali and the sub-region.” The announcement in June 2021 by French President Emmanuel Macron of the reorganization of Operation Barkhane was decried by Mali as “abandonment in mid-air.” Since then, diplomatic relations between Bamako and Paris have continued to deteriorate.
Mali, which has moved closer to Russia, has allegedly called on mercenaries from the controversial private military company Wagner. This has infuriated its traditional partners. In early May, the government in Bamako, dominated by the military, which carried out two putsches between August 2020 and May 2021, denounced the defense agreements between Mali and France, which it accused of having violated the clauses of these agreements organizing the intervention on Malian territory of the Serval Operation, launched in 2013, followed by the Barkhane Operation in 2014, and the European Task Force called Takuba, created in 2020.