Norway on Thursday announced it was closing its embassy in Mali, citing the “security situation” that developed after the ruling junta ordered out foreign troops helping it fight jihadists.
“The decision to close the embassy in Bamako was taken following an assessment of whether it is possible to safeguard Norwegian interests in Mali given the security situation in the country,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Since the two military coups in 2020 and 2021, the political situation in Mali has been volatile.
“The military-led transitional government has terminated its security cooperation with France and the UN. When the UN mission ends, it will become more difficult to maintain normal diplomatic activity in the country.”
France, Mali’s former colonial power and ally in the jihadist struggle, fell out with the junta after it wove close ties with the Kremlin, bringing in paramilitaries that Paris says are Wagner mercenaries.
The 13,000-member UN peacekeeping force MINUSMA, which first deployed to Mali in 2013, is to leave the country by the end of the year at the junta’s request.
Norway’s embassy in Bamako also represents the country’s interests in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.
The ministry said it was looking at options for how to replace the embassy’s role and provide substitute services during the closure.
The junta has promised to restore civilian rule after free elections that it says will be held by February 2024.
The embassy closure does not affect Norway’s aid to the Sahel, which last year amounted to more than $100 million, the ministry said.
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