Norway’s defense minister announced Tuesday that the country had abandoned plans to send a contingent of troops to Mali, saying it was unable to reach an agreement with the military government in Bamako.
“It has not been possible to achieve a sufficient legal framework with Mali that will protect the safety of our soldiers,” Defense Minister Odd Roger Enoksen told parliament.
“As of today it is not possible to send a Norwegian force to Takuba,” he added, referring to a European force in Mali.
The announcement coincides with mounting friction between France and its former colony that has stoked doubts about the future of French and European forces in the troubled country.
Denmark last week announced the withdrawal of its contingent of some hundred men in response to a demand from the junta, which said the deployment had been undertaken without consent.
Denmark’s contingent had just arrived to join Task Force Takuba — a 900-strong French-led unit launched in March 2020 that brings together special forces from European nations to advise Malian troops and assist them in combat
Other military contributors to Takuba are the Netherlands, Estonia, Sweden, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Italy, and Hungary.
On Monday, Bamako also announced the expulsion of the French ambassador to Mali.
The Norwegian troops were initially to be integrated into Sweden’s Takuba contingent.
The size of the Norwegian commitment has been never officially specified, although figures in the order of a dozen men have circulated.