French President Emmanuel Macron will be undertaking his first African trip days after officially taking over at the Elysee Palace. According to AFP news agency, the 39-year-old’s first stop on the continent will be in West Africa, specifically in Mali. He is expected to visit troops fighting insurgents in the country on Today Friday. France has been involved in the fight against militancy in the Sahel region. Under the Operation Barkhane mission, the French join United Nations troops in counter-insurgency efforts.
Reports indicate that the President has spoken by telephone to two troops who were wounded whiles on duty. It is not yet known whether Macron will be meeting any officials of the Malian government on his trip. The last African trip of his predecessor, Francois Hollande was to Mali in January this year during a security summit in the capital, Bamako.
Aside, Mali, the 3,000-strong force is fighting insurgents in the entire Sahel region comprising Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania. For four years jihadist groups have targeted and controlled some areas of northern Mali. 19 French soldiers have been reported to have been killed since the operation started in 2013. Mali has been labeled as the deadliest war front for UN peacekeepers after over 20 of them were killed last year.