The leaders of five countries in Africa’s Sahel region were expected in France on Monday for a summit called by President Emmanuel Macron on the fight against militants.
France has some 4,500 troops based in Mali, Niger and Chad to back up local forces against fighters and Macron wants political commitments from the region’s leaders.
The presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger will meet Macron in Pau, where seven out of 13 French soldiers, killed in Mali in November, were based.
Macron initially called the summit for December, shortly after the troops died in a helicopter collision while taking on jihadists.
He said he wanted the Sahel leaders to clearly state what they wanted from Paris, oppose local “anti-French” sentiment and do “the necessary political work on their side’’ to build on France’s military actions.
France’s military involvement is sensitive in the Sahel countries, which are all former French colonies and Macron’s initiative was poorly received.
The Burkinabe President, Roch Kabore, said he had learned about the invitation from the press and found Macron’s “tone and conditions to be problematic’’.
However, the summit was later postponed after a militant attack in Niger killed 71 soldiers.
French troops have been in the Sahel region since they intervened in 2013 to recapture Northern Mali from jihadists.
France and the EU have supported a joint force between the five Sahel countries in an attempt to build up local military capacities.
But so far, it had recorded little success.
Edited by: Yahaya Isah/Abdulfatah Babatundehttps://nnn.ng/sahel-leaders-in-france-for-anti-terrorism-summit-with-macron/