COPENHAGEN – Denmark said on Tuesday its troops deployed to Mali as part of a French-led counter-terrorism task force were there on the basis of a “clear invitation”, a day after Mali’s transitional government demanded their immediate withdrawal.
The Danish government has reacted with puzzlement at Sunday’s statement from Mali, which said it had not been consulted about Denmark’s military presence there and that the deployment failed to follow protocol.
Speaking in Brussels, Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said Danish troops were in Mali on the basis of a clear invitation, “just like the other parties in the operation.”
Denmark’s foreign ministry said there was “considerable uncertainty about the transitional government’s announcement” and that it was in contact with Mali’s government.
Kofod also criticised the alleged presence of Russian mercenaries in Mali, calling it “highly problematic”. Tensions have escalated in Mali over allegations that transitional authorities have deployed private military contractors from the Russia-backed Wagner Group to Mali, which some EU countries have said was incompatible with their mission.
There has also been discord between Mali and international partners, including regional bodies and the EU which have sanctioned Mali https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eu-will-fall-line-with-ecowas-sanctions-mali-borrell-says-2022-01-13 over the transitional government’s failure to organise elections following two military coups.
A statement on the Danish defence ministry website said on Monday that about 90 personnel, including surgeons and the Danish army special forces, were deployed in Mali as part of the Takuba Task Force.
The force, which comprises 14 European countries, is tasked with providing special forces as well as logistical and tactical support to work alongside regional troops for targeted operations against Islamist militants.
The forces are expected to help Mali and West Africa Sahel neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger tackle jihadist militants linked to the Islamic State and al Qaeda who have occupied swathes of territory in the tri-border area of the countries.