The past presence of French soldiers in Mali, where hostilities have resumed between armed groups and the junta in power, has made it possible to "contain the progression of terrorism", assured French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday.
“Certain speeches would like us to believe in the failure of our military commitment in operations Serval and Barkhane. We can be proud of what our soldiers did in the Sahel, they fulfilled their mission: to enable the countries that we had come to help ", at their request, to confront terrorist groups", she greeted the listeners of the Institute of Advanced National Defense Studies (IHEDN).
“A little over a year after the departure of the last French soldier from Mali, everyone can see how our presence there helped to contain the progression of terrorism and contributed to protecting the populations,” she added.
Armed groups from northern Mali, predominantly Tuareg supporters of independence or autonomy, attacked the army in the key town of Bourem on Tuesday, reinforcing fears of a resumption of hostilities with the central state and end of the peace agreement signed in 2015.
After having pushed out the French and UN forces, the Malian army finds itself, with its Russian partners such as the paramilitary company Wagner, facing one more adversary over a vast territory, a large part of which escapes its control.
The Prime Minister insisted on "the need to rethink our influence to counter the proliferation of anti-French discourse", of which Wagner is accused in Africa.
She notably accused Russia of carrying, to justify its war in Ukraine, "a real doctrine of historical revisionism which, if it caught on, could lead to a multiplication of open conflicts", in Africa, in the Caucasus, or in Asia.
She confirmed that the French Parliament would debate France's strategy in Africa "in the fall", where its military presence is contested in several countries, most recently in Niger.