May 17, 2024

EU military training mission leaves Mali after 11 years

EU military training mission leaves Mali after 11 years

The European Union’s military training mission in Mali said Friday it had officially ended its 11-year presence in the jihadist-wracked country, after the bloc did not renew its mandate in early May.

The 27-member bloc deployed the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in 2013 to train and advise the West African country’s armed forces in the face of rising jihadism since 2012.

The mission had included up to 700 soldiers from some 20 European states, but numbers significantly reduced against a backdrop of diplomatic tensions between Bamako and Western partners.

At the beginning of May, the EU decided not to renew the mission’s mandate in view of “developments in the political and security situation” in the country, according to the European Commission.

Mali’s military seized power in a 2020 coup, breaking off its anti-jihadist alliance with France and European partners while turning politically and militarily towards Russia.

The training mission’s formal departure ceremony took place on Friday at its headquarters in the capital Bamako, EUTM said.

Two mission members have died since 2013, including a Portuguese soldier killed during a 2017 attack on a camp in Bamako, and a Spanish soldier who died in 2018 near the central town of Sevare, according to the EUTM.

The mission says it has trained 20,000 Malian soldiers during its 11-year presence, according to a post on X, formerly Twitter.