Fight against terrorism in Africa: Macron wants to cooperate with ECOWAS
Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that he wanted to continue “to build his action” in the region with the organization of West African states to fight terrorism “in the service of legitimate sovereign states”, during the last leg of his African tour in Guinea-Bissau.
“France will continue to build its action in the region at the service of legitimate sovereign states and this regional organization”, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), “because we consider that our role is to “help the region succeed in this battle against terrorism”, declared the French president during a press briefing with his Bissau-Guinean counterpart, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who has just taken over the presidency of the organization.
“We have always respected the position of this extremely important regional organization and I have always considered that our role was to support the decisions it takes and to be consistent with them,” assured Mr. Macron.
Referring to the situation in Mali, faced with a serious security crisis and the scene of two military coups in 2020 and 2021, he considered that the responsibility of ECOWAS is to work so that “the Malian people can (… ) express its popular sovereignty” and “build the framework of stability” allowing to “fight effectively against terrorist groups”.
“Since it is clear that the choices made by the Malian junta today and its de facto complicity with the Wagner militia are particularly ineffective in the fight against terrorism, that is no longer their objective and that is what which presided over our choice to leave Malian soil”, he added.
Relations between the ruling junta in Bamako and Paris, a former colonial power, have deteriorated sharply in recent months, particularly since the arrival in Mali of paramilitaries from the Russian private security group Wagner, pushing the two countries to break up after nine years of uninterrupted French presence to fight against the jihadists.
At the end of January, while ECOWAS had imposed heavy economic and financial sanctions on Mali, lifted at the beginning of July, the junta had also accused the West African organization of having allowed itself to be “instrumentalised by extra-regional powers”, in reference to France.
The President of Guinea Bissau also announced the creation of an ECOWAS “anti-coup force”, without giving further details, a decision welcomed by the French Head of State.
Mr. Embalo himself escaped an attempted putsch on February 1, which killed 11 people. ECOWAS deployed a force in this territory at the end of June to support the stabilization of this small Portuguese-speaking West African state.
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