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France told to rein in its ‘colonial reflexes’

France was asked to show ‘restraint and respect the basic principle’ of non-interference

A spokesperson for Mali’s transitional junta government has reiterated the demand for Danish troops to leave the country and taken a swipe at the country’s former colonial overlords.

Speaking late Wednesday to news broadcaster ORTM1, Abdoulaye Maiga warned the Danes about France’s “colonial reflexes.” Denmark had previously sent 105 military personnel to the West African nation as part of a French-run counterterrorism unit.

“We invite them [the Danes] to be careful about some partners who sadly have problems getting rid of their colonial reflexes,” Maiga said, again rejecting claims that the Danish troops were there legally. 

“We invite [Armed Forces Minister Florence] Parly to show restraint and respect the basic principle of not interfering in the domestic affairs of a state,” Maiga added. 

Parly had previously accused the junta of provocation amid dispute over the presence of the European Takuba Task Force, which was set up to help the west African nation fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda militants. 

“No accord authorizes the deployment of Danish special forces to the Takuba Task Force,” the Malian government said in a statement. It denies ever responding to a request from Denmark in June to deploy troops. 

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Denmark responded on Thursday, announcing that it would withdraw its force in the country. Its 105 military personnel had arrived in Mali on January 18 to join the European force, claiming there had been a “clear invitation.” 

“We can see that the Malian transitional government, or the coup generals, last night sent out a public statement where they again reiterated that Denmark is not welcome in Mali, and we of course will not put up with that,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told reporters on Thursday. “So therefore we have decided to withdraw our soldiers home,” he added. 

Norway, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, and Lithuania were all set to send troops to Mali this year. Sweden will withdraw its troops in March, creating a headache for France, which wished to involve European partners in its campaign to rid Mali of terrorists.

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