The money invested by the junta in Mali to afford the services of mercenaries from the Russian group Wagner would be “more useful” if it were invested in economic projects, said Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune.
“The money that this presence costs would be better placed and more useful if it went to development in the Sahel,” he said in an interview with the daily Le Figaro, in its Friday edition.
Mali was the scene of two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021. Although it never admitted it, the junta called on Wagner while pushing the French military force Barkhane to leave, after nine of anti-jihadist struggle.
“Terrorism is not what worries me the most, we can defeat it. I am much more worried about the fact that the Sahel is sinking into misery. There, the solution is 80% economic and 20 % safe”.
Political tensions in Mali go hand in hand with a serious ongoing security crisis since the outbreak, in 2012, of separatist and jihadist insurgencies in the north of the country.
Almost all of the Malian armed groups that signed the so-called Algiers peace agreement in 2015, including the former Tuareg rebellion, the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA), suspended their participation last week, arguing of the “persistent lack of political will” of the Bamako junta to maintain it.
The ex-rebellion had ceased its fighting with this peace agreement. The jihadists continue to fight the Malian army and their violence has spread to central Mali, as well as to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Fighters linked to the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda are even continuing their advance towards the Gulf of Guinea.
“The settlement of the situation on the spot obviously goes through Algeria. If we had been helped in the application of the Algiers agreement, in 2015, for the pacification of this area, we would not be here” , hammered President Tebboune, taking up a constant of Algerian diplomacy.
“To bring back peace, the people of northern Mali must be integrated into Malian institutions.”