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Malians Jubilate over departure of French forces from the Sahel

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The  President noted that the region currently harbors some 5,000 troops  and that more than  2,000 of them  will be withdrawn and replaced by specialized regional force by early next year.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.

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