French leader backs Africa military force
BAMAKO, Mali — France’s president on Sunday promised strong support for a new multinational military force against extremists in Africa’s vast Sahel region, saying the “terrorists, thugs and assassins” need to be eradicated.
President Emmanuel Macron, meeting in Mali with leaders from the five regional countries involved, said France will provide military support for operations as well as 70 tactical vehicles and communications, operations and protective equipment.
The 5,000-strong force will be deployed by September, and its funding will be finalized by then, Macron said at a news conference.
The leaders of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad — known as the Group of Five — must clarify their roles and contributions for the force to attract more support from outside countries, the French president added.
“We cannot hide behind words, and must take actions,” he said.
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said each of the Sahel countries would contribute about $11 million toward the force’s overall budget of $480 million. The European Union already has pledged some $57 million in support of the new G-5 force.