Denmark has announced the country would withdraw its newly deployed contingent of 90 troops from Mali after repeated demands by the poor Sahel country’s military junta.
“The coup generals sent out a public statement reiterating that Denmark is not welcome in Mali,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Thursday, referring to a repeated demand from the Malian leadership.
“Of course we do not accept that. That is why we have also decided … to bring our forces home,” Kofod told a press conference after a meeting in parliament.
“We are there at the invitation of Mali. The coup generals, in a dirty political game, have withdrawn that invitation. Unfortunately, it is a game we see because they do not want a quick way back to democracy,” Kofod added.
Mali has been struggling to quell a brutal jihadist conflict that first emerged in 2012, before spreading to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Point of contention
The junta, which came to power in a coup in August 2020, first asked Denmark to withdraw its troops on Monday, following a deployment it said had been undertaken without consent.
The next day, Kofod told reporters that Danish forces were in Mali “on a clear basis” following an invitation and that his government was seeking to clarify the issue.
Mali’s junta responded late Wednesday by repeating its demand, while calling Kofod’s comments “inappropriate”.
A contingent of around 90 Danish soldiers arrived in Mali to join European special forces supporting the country’s anti-jihadist operations earlier this month.
Denmark has previously sent troops to participate in military interventions in Mali, some with the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping force and others with the French-led Operation Barkhane.
The new contingent was joining Task Force Takuba — a 900-troop French-led unit launched in March 2020.
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