France and its allies in a European force have announced that they are withdrawing their troops from Mali after almost a decade.
The troops have been involved in the fight against Islamist militants in the country.
Officials said the decision to leave followed a breakdown in diplomatic relations, amid growing hostility from Mali’s new governing military junta.
The forces will be re-deployed across Africa’s Sahel region.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, countries involved in the French-led Tabuka Taskforce agreed to set out plans on how to remain in the region, notably Niger and the Gulf of Guinea countries, by June 2022.
“In close coordination with the neighbouring states, they also expressed their desire to remain engaged in the region, in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures” the statement read.
The decision will have major security implications for a number of countries involved in the mission.
Ivory Coast’s president Alassane Ouattara warned that the withdrawal of the forces created “a vacuum” which would increase the burden on regional governments.
“We will be obliged to increase our defence forces and increase the protection of our borders,” Mr Ouattara said.
Bocs news Sources: BBC – Mali Conflict: Macron announces troops to leave after nine years