Mali transition leader, US officials talk security, transition to civilian rule

US Africa Command reaffirms solidarity with Mali armed forces against violent extremism.

Mali transition leader, US officials talk security, transition to civilian rule

Malian transition leader Col. Assimi Goita and US officials discussed the security situation in the West African country and Sahel region, authorities said.

During a meeting on Thursday at the presidential palace in the capital Bamako, US Chief of Military Operations for Africa, Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, reaffirmed that US Africa command stands in solidarity with the armed forces and the people of Mali as they counter violent extremism, according to an official statement on Friday.

"Malian and international partner forces have shed blood together while fighting against terrorists that threaten innocent civilians in Mali and the Sahel," Townsend said.

Townsend was accompanied by US Africa Command deputy commander for civil-military engagement, Amb. Andrew Young.

The meeting, also attended by US Ambassador to Mali Dennis Hankins, discussed the need for the transitional government to adhere to its commitment to hold credible, transparent elections and transfer power to a democratically elected government by April 2022.

Goita, who overthrew former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020, promised to hold elections in February next year to restore civilian rule.

The US officials also met with Mali's Defense Minister Sadio Camara, during which Townsend stressed the significant security and development support the US and partners have provided to Mali over the years, bilaterally and through international partners such as the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Building on the longstanding US partnership with Mali, US Africa Command remains committed to promoting a secure, stable, and prosperous future as Mali transitions to a civilian-led, democratically elected government in service of the Malian people, the statement added.

Mali has been battling an insurgency linked to al-Qaeda and the Daesh/ISIS group since 2012, when the unrest started in the north of the country.