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New tensions between Paris and Bamako after the expulsion of the French ambassador


France at war in Malicase

The military in power in Mali gave Joël Meyer three days on Monday to leave the country. A response to the words of the French authorities, described as “hostile and outrageous” by the junta, which risks precipitating the rupture of relations between the two countries.

The transitional authorities summoned the French ambassador to Mali to Bamako on Monday morning to inform him of his expulsion. Joël Meyer, in office since October 2018, will have to leave Malian territory within seventy-two hours. This is the latest escalation in a diplomatic crisis between Paris and Bamako which has been escalating since January 24 and the request for the departure of the Danish military contingent sent by the Malian authorities. After a diplomatic pass of arms, this contingent of a hundred soldiers, who came to Mali to reinforce the French anti-terrorist operation Takuba, was recalled by Denmark, after a second withdrawal request submitted by Bamako. France “take note” the expulsion of its ambassador to Mali, reacted on Monday the Quai d’Orsay, recalling its solidarity with regard to its European partners and its commitment to continue the fight against terrorism.

On January 25, the Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced that a “in-depth consultation” with its European partners in Takuba, in order to provide a response to the “breaking of commitments and provocations by the Malian junta”. Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, spokesperson for the transitional government, replied to the minister by inviting him “to make his own this sentence of Alfred de Vigny on the greatness of silence”. On national television, he then accused France “to instrumentalise” sub-regional organizations and to maintain “colonial reflexes”.

“Hostile and outrageous remarks”

Two days later, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, reacted in turn, describing the military in power in Bamako as a junta “illegitimate” who takes “irresponsible measures”, referring to the coup d’etat perpetrated against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on August 18, 2020, then the second coup, on May 24, less than a year after the implementation of the transition, allowing Colonel Assimi Goïta to access at the top of the Malian state. “The junta bears full responsibility for the withdrawal of Danish forces and further isolates itself from its international partners,” added Jean-Yves Le Drian.

It is following these “hostile and outrageous remarks by the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs” and to “the recurrence of such remarks by the French authorities with regard to the Malian authorities, despite the protests repeatedly raised”, explains an official press release, that the French ambassador was summoned on Monday to be notified of his expulsion. According to a diplomatic source, the exchange between the ambassador and the Malian government was expeditious, “a ten-minute dialogue of the deaf”.

“retaliatory measures”

This is the first time that a French ambassador has been expelled from Mali. The event underlines the seriousness of the diplomatic fracture between the two countries, partners since 2013 in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. In its press release, the government of the Republic of Mali “reiterates its availability to maintain dialogue and pursue cooperation with all of its international partners, including France, with mutual respect and on the basis of the cardinal principle of non-interference”. But this snub risks further aggravating relations. According to a source, Paris does not plan to appoint a new ambassador but rather to quickly take “retaliatory measures” against Bamako.

The last diplomatic expulsion carried out by the Malian authorities was that of Hamidou Boly, representative of the Economic Community of West African States, who was sent back in October for “acts incompatible with his status”, while the discussions on the postponement of the elections, fixed for February then postponed sine die, were in full swing.



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