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Mali-France: Emmanuel Macron to meet Assimi Goïta in Bamako

By Benjamin Roger
Posted on Wednesday, 15 December 2021 12:17

French president Emmanuel Macron. French president Emmanuel Macron talks to reporters at the Royal Lounge of Jeddah Airport, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as he ends three Gulf countries tour
French president Emmanuel Macron. French president Emmanuel Macron talks to reporters at the Royal Lounge of Jeddah Airport, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as he ends three Gulf countries tour. Abd Rabbo Ammar-POOL/SIPA

The French president will hold talks with his Malian counterpart in the coming days. The two men are expected to discuss several sensitive issues, including the potential arrival of Russian mercenary outfit the Wagner Group.

They have spoken several times by phone, but have never met before. This will be the first time. According to our information, Emmanuel Macron will go to Bamako on 20 December. He will be received by Colonel Assimi Goïta, the president of the Malian transition. The meeting comes after months of diplomatic tension between the two countries.

Christmas dinner

The meeting will centre on negotiations around the possible arrival of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group in Mali, and the organisation of elections that are supposed to put an end to the transitional regime. Macron will once again try to dissuade his host from making any agreement with the paramilitary group or risk facing heavy international sanction.

In an echo of the tough line shown by regional body ECOWAS, he will also reiterate the importance of holding elections by the end of February, as pledged at the beginning of the transition. At a summit in Abuja on 12 December, the West African heads of state announced that they would decide on new sanctions if nothing is done by January 2022.

After meeting with Goïta, the French president will fly to the French military base in Gao. Accompanied by Florence Parly, the minister of the armed forces, he will visit the troops and review the process of transformation of the Barkhane force, which began three months ago. He will then share a Christmas dinner with the French military and spend the night there.

A few days before taking over the rotating presidency of the EU in January, Macron will also meet with the European contingents of the Takuba task force, which Paris intends to make an essential link in its future military operation in the Sahel.

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