Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Bamako to demonstrate against the French military presence in Mali, calling for the total withdrawal of French troops from the country.
“We are here for Mali, we are here to demonstrate our national sovereignty. To remind the whole world that sovereignty belongs to the people and that those who have not understood this must get up to speed today. Because the transition for us today is the result of decades of mismanagement, misgovernance of our country and bad partnerships,” Mohamed Ousmane Mohamedoun, Member of the National Transition Council said.
“It doesn’t matter if France leaves or always stays. The point is that France is not the best suited to tell a country on the ground not to call on all its friends,” a protester said.
There is a tense dispute between Mali and its key military partner France over reports Bamako could recruit Russian mercenaries as Paris reshapes its 5,000-strong counter-terrorism mission in the region.
Mali has been trying to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012.
A military coup last year in Mali has complicated matters further, and the junta’s leaders have faced criticism from France and the African Union