Malians celebrate French troop withdrawal, expel ambassador | DW News

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There have been scenes of jubilation in Mali, after France said it would begin to pull its troops out of the West African country. France has helped in the struggle against radical Islamic militias for nine years – until relations with Mali’s military leaders turned sour. Paris objects to their alleged hiring of a Russian mercenary group to fight the jihadists. But for now there’s a sense of relief in Bamako.

In the streets of Bamako, Malians waved brooms and sweep away ash – symbolising the departure of French troops after nearly a decade.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal of anti-jihadist forces on Thursday – after months of escalating tensions with Mali’s military leaders.

But his inital timeline of four to six months is now under question. Mali’s army-led goverment has expelled the French ambassador and demanded the immediate departure of both French and European forces.

On the streets, the mood among the government’s supporters is clear. Popular resentment against France has been driven by its failure to stem the tide of radical Islamic attacks in Mali.The French troops’ withdrawal now potentially opens the door for talks between the government and radical islamist forces it opposes.

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