Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Mali president, has warned that the failure of the US to remove a travel ban on Chad could negatively impact Chad’s security commitments, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Keita is also head of the Sahel G5 states – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - which recently formed a joint counter-terrorism force to tackle an Islamist insurgency in the region.
“The president of the G5 thinks this decision could affect the commitment of Chad, which has until now shown itself to be a key partner in the fight against terrorism in the G5 Sahel and beyond,” said Keita in a statement sent to journalists late on Wednesday.
The US recently added Chad to a list of eight countries, including Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen whose citizens are banned from travelling to the US.
However, Chad’s inclusion on the travel ban list caught the African Union Commission (AUC) by surprise.
During a Tuesday meeting at AU headquarters with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against the Boko Haram insurgency, the leadership expressed bewilderment at the imposition of a travel ban on the Republic of Chad, in particular, given its important role in the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin, Northern Mali, and the Sahel.
Security analysts were also surprised at the ban as Chad has acted as a bulwark against local and regional armed movements and played a leading role in the fight against Boko Haram.
Furthermore, the Chadian army continues to provide a buffer against its unstable neighbour in the north, Mali, where jihadists are strongly active.
Chad, a French ally, also hosted a US special forces military training exercise in February.
In an attempt to resolve the dispute, the AUC is calling for further dialogue between African countries and Washington, and discussing the matter at the upcoming AU-US High Level Dialogue in November 2017.
- African News Agency (ANA)