French Defence Minister, Florence Parly who visited Mali warns that her country cannot cohabit with Russian mercenary group which the West African country plans to contract to help fight insecurity in the Sahel region.
“We will not be able to cohabit with mercenaries,” Parly warns whilst revealing to reporters that she had a “frank, direct and complete exchange,” during her meeting with Colonel Sadio Camara who is the current Defence Minister for Mali.
Prior to her visit to Mali, Florence Parly said that, engaging the Wagner will be “incoherent with everything we have done” in the Sahel region.
Mali’s foreign ministry has however clarified that, it “would not allow any state to make its choices” as France keeps pushing for the exemption of Russia from the military engagement in the region.
Recall that, authorities in Mali earlier announced a pending deal with Russia’s Wagner to deploy nearly one thousand soldiers to boost the fight against insurgency in the region. This was met with strong opposition from France which has its Barkhane force of 5,000 soldiers operating in the Sahel since 2013.
The long-term French Military presence in Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, has been criticized by many Africans over the years; to some of these critics, the military dominance in the region is just an extension of colonial rule.