Ruling junta pulls Mali out of G5 Sahel joint force –– a 2017 military project undertaken by five countries of Africa's Sahel region including Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.
Mali has withdrawn from a West African force fighting militants to protest its rejection as head of the G5 regional group, which also includes Mauritania, Chad, Burkina and Niger.
"The government of Mali is deciding to withdraw from all the organs and bodies of the G5 Sahel, including the joint force" fighting the militants, it said in a statement on Sunday.
A conference of heads of state of the G5 Sahel scheduled for February 2022 in capital Bamako had been due to mark "the start of the Malian presidency of the G5".
But nearly four months after the mandate indicated this meeting "has still not taken place", the statement said.
Bamako "firmly rejects the argument of a G5 member state which advances the internal national political situation to reject Mali's exercising the G5 Sahel presidency", the statement said, without naming the country.
The Mali government said "the opposition of some G5 Sahel member states to Mali's presidency is linked to manoeuvres by a state outside the region aiming desperately to isolate Mali", without naming that country.
The G5 Sahel force was set up in 2017 to counter militants who have swept across the region in recent years, killing thousands of people and forcing millions to flee their homes.
But the force has been hobbled by a lack of funding and has struggled to reduce the violence.
The statement by Mali's junta, which ousted former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and took power in a 2020 coup, blamed a lack of progress in the fight against the militants and the failure to hold recent meetings in Mali.
The move further isolates Mali, which has also be slapped with sanctions from West Africa's regional political bloc, hitting jobs and industry in the impoverished country.