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mali. Who is telling the truth? Agreement or not with the Europeans on the Takuba task force?

(B2) Between Paris and Bamako words fuse. Everyone returns arguments, legal. Seven answers to see clearly.

Is there an agreement?

Yes. There is an agreement between the Malians and the 'Takuba'. We read and commented on it in November 2020 (read: The status of forces in Takuba. The text of the SOFA concluded between Paris, Bamako and the European partners). But this agreement is not at the formal level an international treaty, that is to say a common text signed, then ratified by all the parties, with the support if necessary of their parliaments.

Where does this agreement come from?

It is, in fact, the pre-existing agreement between French and Malians on Serval from 2013 which served as a basis and which was reinforced by a Franco-Malian agreement from 2020 (in the form of exchanges of letters). It therefore has legal value in itself. It was extended to the Takuba task force and to European partners.

What does this agreement say?

This so-called SOFA agreement (on the status of forces) has concrete consequences. In particular, it allows soldiers to come, armed, to display their flag, to move around the country without tax or hindrance, and to be exempt from certain formalities (customs, tax, visas, etc.). It also gives criminal and tax immunity to soldiers.

How does European approval work?

Each of the European countries arriving in Takuba sends a letter to Bamako to approve this agreement and to comply with its obligations and rights. For Mali, the procedure has been initiated by the Danes. " There was a request. She was received with an accused from the ministry. But there was no formal response afterwards. » And the Danish soldiers arrived without waiting for this. This is a rather common practice in military operations. And in fact, under the previous Malian regime, we left it there. Only the military takeover changed the situation. The Malians are therefore not wrong when they say that there is no agreement (in the sense of international law). The French are not wrong either in saying that there was an agreement (in the political sense of the term).

Is this agreement solid?

No. It's even the opposite. This type of agreement (by exchange of letters) is fragile. It does not contain any provision on its denunciation (unlike an international treaty). It hangs on a single thread: the consent of the host country. Any military presence on sovereign soil can be denounced at any time by the State concerned. By any means. Without any delay. The Franco-Malian agreement does not mention a procedure or deadline for denunciation.

A political agreement before being legal ?

Yes. It's logic. We touch on the heart of a state's sovereignty: the foreign military presence. The public political act of Bamako constitutes, in itself, a denunciation. It doesn't matter what was signed (or not) before. It must be taken into account and respected.

What do Malians mainly criticize the French for?

This is not a purely legal question, but a deeper one. France behaves a bit like conquered territory in Mali, “ arrogantly “, believing that his presence is worth a” except driven for European forces » as a Malian diplomat recently confided to B2. To meditate…

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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