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The junta chooses isolation after the EU withdraws its mission

Colonel Goïta will stand for election in 2027, extending the military-led transition to democracy from two years to five

Confirmation that the European Union's military mission in Mali will end at the weekend, coupled with the announcement several days later on 10 May, that the military-led transition to democracy will be extended by three years, will deepen the country's international isolation (AC Vol 65 No 2, What hope for the juntas' promised elections?).

Following nationwide consultations, which were boycotted by many of the opposition, Mali's National Dialogue Committee announced that junta leader Colonel Assimi Goïta would be allowed to stand in elections that are now planned for 2027, extending the transition to five years from two, effectively prolonging the junta's rule to 2027.

The EU's decision which will come into effect on 18 May, follows a 'strategic review' by the bloc, consultations carried out with the Malian authorities, and taking into account the 'evolution of the political and security situation on the ground,' the EU's diplomatic wing, the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement.

The EU has gradually abandoned any attempt to build political relations with the junta, instead prioritising ties with neighbouring West African states, including Mauritania, Senegal, Benin, and Côte d'Ivoire, offering cooperation and financial support on defence and migration control.

The European Union Military Training Mission (EUTM) was deployed to train and advise forces and included up to 700 soldiers from some 20 European countries. However, it  significantly reduced its numbers following military coups in 2020 and 2021, and the junta's opposition to the French-led Opération Barkhane, a military mission against Islamic terror groups that ended in November 2022.

'The channels for political dialogue and security and technical cooperation remain open,' added the EEAS.

That Goïta's government showed so little interest in working with Brussels is an indication of the regime's self-confidence and its determination to press ahead with an alternative model based on cooperation with neighbouring military regimes in the Alliance des États du Sahel (AES) and Russian military support (AC Vol 65 No 10, The juntas are running out of excuses).

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