N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad's interim president Mahamat Idriss Deby has urged Mali's military junta to reconsider its decision to withdraw from a five-nation military force fighting Islamist militants in the Sahel region.
Malian authorities announced the decision on Sunday, blaming the lack of progress in the fight against militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State and the failure to hold recent meetings in Mali. G5 Sahel has troops from Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad and Niger.
Mali's junta, which came to power in an August 2020 coup, has grown increasingly estranged from its West African neighbours after delaying elections set for February that were meant to restore democratic rule.
Chad's Deby, the acting president of the G5 Sahel, said in a statement released on his behalf on Friday that the alliance was "an irreplaceable instrument of cooperation".
"The acting president of the G5 Sahel exhorts the government of the Republic of Mali to reconsider its position in order to allow efforts underway ... (to) provide a solution to its concerns through an imminent conference of heads of state and government," the statement said.
Deby was installed in power by the military last year after the battlefield death of his father, President Idriss Deby. He has faced less international criticism than Mali's junta, which is embroiled in a dispute with France, the former colonial power and main military ally of regional forces.
The G5 was established in 2017 to bolster cooperation against the militants, who exploit porous borders in West Africa's arid Sahel region to carry out attacks and seek refuge.
But it has been hobbled by shortfalls in funding and coordination, and militant violence has continued to increase and spread towards countries on the Atlantic coast.
(Reporting by Mahamat Ramadane; Writing by Aaron Ross; editing by Grant McCool)