Mali transition must be quick, French military action to continue, French foreign minister says

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A general view of the meeting between junta leaders of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) which overthrew Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediators in Bamako, Mali August 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mamadou Keita
A general view of the meeting between junta leaders of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) which overthrew Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediators in Bamako, Mali August 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mamadou Keita

France’s foreign minister said on Thursday that the transition in Mali needs to be quick, but that the coup d’etat in the country would not stop French military operations targeting Islamist militants.

The leaders of the military coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Mali on Aug. 18 have told a delegation of West African mediators that they want to stay in power for a three-year transition period, Nigeria said on Wednesday.

“The transition must be done quickly, power returned to civilians and that there is a political agenda put in place to allow this country to find a political stability,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio.

He said the West African mediation had to be concluded quickly to restore some stability because it that was indispensable to continue the fight against Islamist militants.

Former colonial power France has some 5,100 troops in the Sahel region with a large portion operating from Mali, where it intervened in 2013 to stop an Islamist militant advance on the capital Bamako.

“(The French operation) will continue,” Le Drian said. “This battle continues. The Junta say the same thing.”

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