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France has 5000 soldiers stationed permanently in Africa.


Africa Security News.- Chart of the French Military presence in Africa. Source French Ministery of Defense 2006.

Africa Security News.- Chart of the French Military presence in Africa. Source French Ministery of Defense 2006.

by  ASN Contributor Mr. Alejandro Ronard Alem.- While the French Minister of Defense ended their year-end tour, specially dedicated to meet the troops of the two largest French military operations in Mali (SERVAL) and in Central African Republic (SANGARIS) , the international press realizes nervousness and misunderstanding of the French strategy in this part of Africa. Simultaneously, some
leaders as Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, have publicly criticized the situation created in Kidal with the withdrawal of French troops ( from a starting contingent of 250 men , only 70 will remain executing counter-terrorist activities).

It should be noted that France has 5,000 troops stationed permanently in  Africa.  Which are stationed mainly in:
Djibouti (2000), Libreville (950) , Abidjan (450) and Dakar (350). This military stations allow France the quickly and effective transfer and support of the french troops that have intervened in late military operations.

 The strategy of the French discourse , at risk of being unreadable,  is  that its presence in the area must be interpreted in all cases as a support operation, rather than a colonial power.

If the murders of the RFI journalists in Kidal  prompted French authorities to strengthen its military presence in northern Mali, today‘s short term strategy in this zone is the will of Paris to transfer control to the Armed Forces of Mali and to the MINUSMA (UN Mission in Mali).

Note that this region of Mali has been under the control of French forces with the support of the MNLA (National Liberation Movement of Azaward) and consequently the French have created closely ties with this organization MNLA. And against critics who openly say that if France wants to beat Al Qaeda´s group AQNI and rakes jihadist groups such as MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) , the French would have to break with the MNLA, which –with insistence- begins to express separatist inclinations.

To which Paris reminds that the political agreements made in Ouagadougou, said that Mali‘s army can´t have a significant presence in Kidal.

Africa Security News.- Journalist  Alejandro Ronard Alem

Africa Security News.- Journalist Alejandro Ronard Alem

The other leg of the Ouagadogou agreements was the cantonment and disarmament of MNLA and his acolytes , and this part of the agreement is not working, so the only credible solution for now is to strengthen the MINUSMA in Kidal.
Ibrahim Boubakar Keita (President of Mali) will try to accelerate the process of restructuring and training of the army of Mali, in order to ensure the mission of defense of the territorial integrity of Mali.

Happening at one hundred and fifty kilometers from the city of Tessalit, the recent discovery of two important hideouts with many weapons, lot of ammunition and explosives, discovery made by the Battalion of Tchad MINUSMA in collaboration with the French DLA (Unit of coordination and support) of the SERVAL force, make it clear that far from defeated, the terrorist groups are far from being defeated and have only retreated, waiting to relaunch its deadly action.

In CAR the situation is complicated; Michel Djotodia not only renounce to the Presidency that had takende facto-  with the help of Idriss Deby (President of Chad), but he also exiled in Benin, which is the country where his wife Chantal was born, who waited there in Benin with his family.

Djotodia face pressure from France and its allies, and certainly with Tchad bid that secured him transportation and security to the capital of Benin, he preferred this way to escape from a difficult situation, due to the lack of control of  his lieutenants from Seleka (yihadist militia).

And while the departure of Djotodia accelerated the political changes in CAR, this has not brought calm in Bangui. On the contrary,  the situation of displaced populations particularly those of Muslim origin is dangerous.
Revenge of the anti Seleka militias is causing deaths and general insecurity, despite the control of the French army and the African Union military forces.

With the presidential position vacated by Djotodia , there is a political transition in the way, where the Acting President is Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendeat – that has served as President of the CNT National Transitional Council of the Central African Republic CAR. Then the  Parliament  present in Bangui has to choose within 15 days the person who will officiate as  interim President and who will have to call national elections once the humanitarian and security situation allows.

According to members of the CNT, they must find a person who is respected by all and acceptable in the eyes of the Western partners, and of course with the blessing of Idriss Déby (Chad). Neighboring countries of the CAR are unstable like North Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad itself.

French troops are trying to monitor and control the situation in the CAR capital of Bangui. As reported by General Francisco Soriano (Chief of French Sangaris Operation) the task of the French army , while disarming the militias and ensure the safety of the population, its action is limited to the capital Bangui and only a group of 100 French soldiers are in the city of  Bossonga . Together with African Union Troops , the French are awaiting reinforcements from UN peacekeeper troops .

With more than a million displaced people, humanitarian emergency in CAR requires that at the next Conference of Donor Countries that will be held on February 1st  in Addis Ababa , the International Community will quickly send the amounts needed to prevent an even greater crisis. But the first signs of a rapid return to some normality is the returning of the former soldiers of the CAR Army to the barracks , in order to rebuild the national army of the CAR , with the participation of Christians and Muslims.