France, 14 other countries urge Mali to let Danish forces stay
France and 14 other countries have called on Mali to allow Danish special forces to remain in the African country, whose transitional government insists that they have entered Mali without formal invitation and must immediately withdraw.
In a statement late on Wednesday, the member states of the Takuba Task Force (TTF) said that they deeply regretted the Mali government’s statement that the presence of the Danish contingent in the European task force lacked a proper legal basis.
“They act in full accordance with international and national laws in their support to the Malian armed forces and in their long-standing fight against armed terrorist groups,” the 15 nations said.
The TTF was established in March last year to help Mali and its West African Sahel neighbors, namely Burkina Faso and Niger, combat militants linked to the two Takfiri terrorist groups of Daesh and al-Qaeda, which have occupied swathes of territory in the area where their borders meet.
On Monday, Mali’s government asked Denmark to immediately withdraw its 100 troops, claiming that the Danish contingent in Takuba lacked a proper legal basis and that their arrival had “taken place without its consent.”
On Tuesday, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in response that the troops were there on a “clear invitation.”
“The Danish contribution has been accepted both by the previous Malian government and, on several occasions, by the current transitional government,” he added.
However, the Malian government responded that it was surprised since a decision on a request by Copenhagen in June to deploy soldiers was still pending.
“No accord authorizes the deployment of Danish special forces to the Takuba Task Force,” the Malian government said in a statement, adding that Norway, Portugal, and Hungary were still waiting for approval and had not yet deployed their troops.
Mali has become increasingly engulfed in violence since a Tuareg uprising in 2012 was hijacked by extremist militants, who perpetrated ethnic killings and attacks on government forces and civilians.