Macron asks Sahel leaders to clarify stance on presence of French troops in region

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference on Wednesday 4 December following the NATO summit in London./ PHOTO: French Presidency

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called upon West African leaders to clarify their stance on the French military operation in the Sahel region.

Macron made the call at a news conference after a NATO alliance summit held in the U.K.

The French president’s call came amid concerns both from France and West Africa over the success of the French military presence in the Sahel region.

“I want them (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania) to clarify and formalise their demands regarding France and the international community: do they want our presence and do they need it? I want clear answers to these questions,” he said.

13 French soldiers were killed last month after two helicopters collided midair, prompting mixed reaction from various factions in the Saleh region and France.

“I can’t have French troops on the ground in the Sahel when there is ambiguity (by authorities) towards anti-French movements and sometimes comments carried by politicians,” President Macron said.

He said he had invited the five Sahel leaders to France on 16 December to discuss the issue.

“Their response is today a necessary condition for our troops to stay,” he said.

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