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EU suspends military training in Mali

The EU will halt its military training operation in Mali but will not stop it for the time being, according to the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Tuesday.

“We decided to reaffirm our decision of suspending operational training, but we are not canceling this mission,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of the bloc’s defence ministers.

On Sunday, Mali’s military junta announced the country’s withdrawal from the G5 Sahel group, a multinational force in Western Africa long supported by the West.

Borrell expressed sorrow about the choice.

He also chastised the junta for failing to disassociate itself from the Wagner group, a group of Russian mercenaries who have aided Mali’s military and are being accused of human rights atrocities.

According to Borrell, the EU has yet to secure guarantees from the Mali junta over non-interference by Russian mercenaries.

“On the contrary, we have seen an increasing pattern of collusion and allegations of grave human rights abuses, being investigated by the United Nations,” he added.

The G5 Sahel force, which includes troops from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, was set up in 2017 to counter jihadists who have swept across the region in recent years, killing thousands of people and forcing millions to flee their homes.

But the force has been hobbled by a lack of funding and has struggled to reduce the violence.

The withdrawal from the G5 Sahel further isolates Mali, which has also been slapped with sanctions from West Africa’s regional political bloc, hitting jobs and industry in the impoverished country.

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