President Emmanuel Macron of France will meet West African leaders on Sunday in Mali to discuss support for a new 5,000-strong multinational force meant to counter a growing threat from terror groups including Boko Haram and al-Qaida.
Heads of state from five nations across Africa’s vast Sahel region have called for a new regional force after terrorists targeted tourist resorts and other high-profile areas in the region especially in Mali.
The visit is Macron’s second to Mali in a month and a half which defines his hard-stand against terrorism especially those linked to al-Qaida in the region.
It would be recalled that the U.N. Security Council in June approved the deployment of the new force with troops from Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad after at least five people were killed in an attack on a Mali resort popular with foreigners.
Reports suggest that funding of the new force meant to be operational in the next few months will be the major focus of the meeting.
On inauguration, the new force will operate in the region along with a 12,000-strong U.N peacekeeping mission in Mali which has been adjudged the deadliest in the world.
It is believed that European countries, including Germany as well as U.S., will contribute to the establishment of the new force as Macron announces on Sunday his support for the force, both financial and in terms of equipment.
Terror attacks have grown out of proportion in Mali which led to a French-led intervention that drove out Islamic extremists from strongholds in northern Mali in 2013, but the extremists have continued targeting peacekeepers and other forces.
Unfortunately aid group “Doctors Without Borders” announced on Thursday it was suspending activities in northern Mali’s Kidal region because of security concerns.
It would be recalled extremist groups Ansar Dine, Al-Mourabitoun and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, declared in March that they had merged into Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen.
The development caused more panic in the region with the call for the new force.