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Mali accuses France of violating its airspace – RT en français
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Mali accuses France of violating its airspace – RT en français
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Mali has denounced a violation of its airspace to France, linked to the closure of its borders in retaliation for regional sanctions. According to a French military source, however, “all the procedures were respected”.

Asecna (Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar), an organization for the management of air spaces in a large part of Africa, reported to the Malian authorities a violation of their space by a French military plane, according to AFP information obtained from the Malian air authorities on January 12. This report made on January 11 raises the question of the impact, on French but also international military operations, of Mali’s closure of its air (and land) borders in retaliation for similar West African sanctions.

In a press release published on the evening of January 12, the Malian government declares to have “denounced this violation of Mali’s airspace to the French authorities who have, moreover, decided to support the sanctions of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of the States of West Africa), including the closure of the land and air borders of its member countries with Mali ”. “[Le gouvernement malien] declines any responsibility relating to the risks to which the authors of these practices could expose themselves, in the event of new violation of our airspace ”, adds the press release.

France, militarily engaged in Mali and the Sahel, but also the UN force in Mali (Minusma) constantly carry out flights between the region and Mali, for supplies and operations.

Asked by AFP, a French military source in Paris said: “At this stage we have not received any official indication concerning possible air restrictions.” In addition, “we are bound by defense agreements,” adds this source. “All the procedures were followed. The aircraft submitted a flight plan which was approved by the Malian authorities. And as required by the procedure followed each time, when entering Malian airspace, the transponder is switched to military operating mode. For us there is no subject ”, also declared the same source.

An affected Airbus A400

In detail, Asecna informed the Malian Civil Aviation on January 11 that an Airbus A400 transport had violated the same day the Malian order to suspend flights between ECOWAS member states and Mali, according to reports. documents published on social networks and cited by AFP. The CEO of Mali’s airports, Colonel Lassina Togola, told AFP that the documents were authentic. The aircraft made the round trip between Abidjan (Ivory Coast, neighboring Mali) and Gao (Mali), where the French army has a large base, the documents say.

Asecna says it was not previously informed of the existence of the theft. The device came into contact with the control centers of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Niamey (Niger) who reminded it of the ban on entry into Malian space, the documents detail. Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Niger are all members of ECOWAS. The device cut off contact with the control centers and continued on its way, report the Asecna files.

Will French military flights be able to benefit from an exemption from border closures?

Asked if this meant that French military flights but also those of Minusma from ECOWAS countries were affected by the Malian ban, the CEO of Mali airports replied that “the borders are closed to the countries of the Cédéao, therefore […] aircraft cannot come to Mali from these states ”. “However, by exemption, an authorization may be granted at the request of the carrier,” he added, without specifying whether the devices of the French anti-jihadist military force or those of the Minusma benefited from an exemption.

the borders are closed to ECOWAS countries, so […] aircraft cannot come to Mali from these states

The ECOWAS, among other measures, ordered on January 9 the closure of the borders of its member states with Mali to sanction the plan of the military authorities to remain in power for several years. Mali in return ordered the closure of its borders.

“We have a legal status which allows us to move around and do a number of things and do not doubt that the ECOWAS countries which have closed their borders with Mali will allow military movements to continue,” said the 10th. January the French Ministry of the Armed Forces to AFP.

“The implementation of the mandate of Minusma continues without interruption,” said a spokesperson, Olivier Salgado. “All the actors concerned cooperate fully to facilitate the operations of the Minusma and the UN on the ground”, he added.

Asecna has not yet responded to AFP’s requests.

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