KIGALI, Rwanda 

Estonia has decided to withdraw its forces deployed in Mali as part of a counter-terrorism mission, the country’s defense minister said Monday, making it the latest country to announce such a move after Denmark. 

Kalle Laanet said the presence of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) in Mali is about to end, with the official withdrawal to be announced Wednesday, the local Postimees daily reported.

“Democratic elections are not planned, which was one of the most important aspects of the agreement (to provide aid),” Laanet said.

The announcement comes weeks after Denmark said it will start pulling its troops out of Mali after the West African country’s transitional government demanded an immediate withdrawal.

“The example can be seen with Denmark. It is not possible to continue under such conditions, and all the other allies agreed,” he said.

European allies at a meeting Friday confirmed that due to the Malian junta’s flagrant violation of the rules, it is no longer possible to continue the mission, Laanet said.

However, he said the withdrawal does not mean that the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region will end.

The EDF has been contributing forces to the French-led Operation Barkhane mainly through an infantry platoon based in the city of Gao. In 2019, Estonia increased its troop deployment to 95 soldiers.

Estonia’s special forces had also participated in Operation Takuba, a European military taskforce, in northeastern Mali.

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