The United States Government is blocking the sale of a CASA C-295W tactical transport aircraft to Mali, in response to the alleged use of child soldiers.
Mali denies , stating that the child soldiers in the country were recruited by other armed groups like the Imghad Tuareg Self-Defense Group, that later merged with the Malian army.
“In reality, it is not the government that is involved. It is about recruitment into certain armed groups that have joined the government,” said the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdoulaye Diop.
Diop made several attempts to receive the military transport aircraft asked the United States to lift its restrictions. On 16 August, Diop visited the US and met with the Director of African Affairs at the White House, David Diaz, and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Robert Godec to strengthen political dialogue between the two countries amid Mali’s political transition.
“I have requested the support of these personalities for the lifting of the blockade in order to allow the delivery of the CASA C-295 aircraft acquired with Mali’s own funds,” Diop said in a statement upon his return to the capital of Mali, Bamako.
The C-295 aircraft requires a particular transponder made in the United States, which requires export approval from the U.S. authorities.
Mali is said to be under two US sanctions that is preventing the export if sensitive defence equipment, and according to US ambassador in Mali, Dennis Hankins, these restrictions will be removed once Mali completes its democratic elections in February 2022.
The new C-295W aircraft was ordered in December 2020 to support the first aircraft already in operation since December 2016, and has accumulated more than 1 770 flight hours and transported more than 38 000 passengers and 900 tonnes of cargo in less than four years of operations.
When delivered, the new C-295 aircraft will provide an essential air bridge to the isolated areas in the north of the country.
For transport duties, the new aircraft will join Mali’s small fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft including a single C295W transport, two Y-12E light utility aircraft and a Super Puma transport helicopter.