Malians have trooped to social media to express their excitement over the planned closure of French Barkhane troops from the Sahel region by the close of the year.
The over 2, 000 French Barkhane troops have been operating in the region since 2013. These troops were spread across Mali, chad, Niger. Burkina Faso and Mauritania to help curtail terrorism in the region.
However, many locals in communities where the French troops were stationed criticized the move, claiming the French government was only exercising colonial power in the region.
According to a 25 year old Sambaby Diaka, who is a phone repairer in Bamako, “the departure of half of the French troops from Mali the end of the year, I think it’s good,”
“If they leave, maybe people who want to fight for real, without playing politics and without exploiting our wealth, will come and help us,” he added.
A hairdresser whose name was given as Alima Sacko also stated that, “the conflicts are not like they used to be. They are getting worse and spreading everywhere. They used to be in the North, now they have reached other regions. So, I would like the French military to leave”.
The French President Emmanuel Macron, on Friday announced the withdrawal of more than half of his troops after a meeting with Leaders from the affected African countries.
The President noted that the region currently harbors some 5,000 troops and that more than 2,000 of them will be withdrawn and replaced by specialized regional force by early next year.
Mr. Macron further explained that his country would not totally neglect its African partners but would help fight the Al-Qaida and the Islamic State groups through a different means.
However, Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues noted that, the region welcomes the French military support and training, but on African terms.
French troops have been present in Mali since 2013 when they intervened to force Islamic extremist rebels from power in towns across the country’s north.