Macron to step up fight against Islamists in Mali

Newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron visited the counter-terrorism troops based in the Gao region in northern Mali as a part of Operation Barkhane on 19 May, to show support for the 4,000 deployed French soldiers and declare France will step up its fight against the Islamist militants in the region.

According to President Macron, the Islamist forces are regrouping in the area and therefore more forceful retaliation is needed, as well as closer cooperation with other European partners. The visit also comes after Mali’s Conference of National Understanding in late March, where, following the conference, Malian Minister of National Reconciliation Mohamed El Moctar expressed his openness to the idea of negotiations with the jihadists. However, the government changed its view after France’s then FM Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Mali in early April, saying there is only one way to fight terrorism. President Macron seems to share former FM Ayrault’s opinion but is also emphasising the need for economic development in France’s former colonies.

About author: Carolin Laubre

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