President of France, Emmanuel Macron has cancelled his trip to Mali from December 20 to 21.
He was expected in the West African nation to visit French troops who are withdrawing from the country.
But Macron’s office said the trip has been canceled due to France’s deteriorating health situation over the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
“This decision was taken in order for there to be coherence between national measures and the president’s international agenda, and in order not to expose troops,” Macron’s office said in a statement on Friday.
The office said a Christmas meal prepared by the president’s chef would be flown over to French military personnel stationed in Mali.
Mali is currently dealing with a political transitional crisis amid security concerns and is now preparing to take charge of the fight against extremists following France’s decision to withdraw troops from the Sahel region.
The French government announced this year that by 2022 it will close all of its military bases in Mali.
This is part of a bigger plan by France to finally withdraw troops fighting Islamist extremists in the Sahel region.
France operated military bases in Kidal, Tessalit et Tombouctou, helping to fight militants wrecking havoc in those places.
“The shutdowns of these sections will start in the second half of 2021 and be completed by early 2022,” Macron told reporters at a summit with some West African leaders in July.