Mali expels French envoy over 'hostile and outrageous' comments by Paris

2022-01-31 19:26:07
Mali expels French envoy over 'hostile and outrageous' comments by Paris

Mali on Monday gave the French ambassador 72 hours to leave the West African country after "hostile and outrageous" comments by former colonial power France about its transitional government.

"The French ambassador to Bamako was summoned and notified of a decision by the government inviting him to leave the national territory within 72 hours following hostile and outrageous comments by the French foreign affairs minister recently," the government in a statement read on national television.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that Mali's junta was "out of control" amid escalating tensions between the West African state and its European partners following two coups.

He also called the junta illegitimate. French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Saturday French troops would not stay in Mali if the price was too high. read more

France has had troops in Mali since 2013, when it intervened to drive back militants who were advancing on the capital. The militants have since regrouped and are waging an increasingly bloody insurgency across the Sahel region.

Tensions between France and its former colony Mali have grown since reports late last year that the Sahel state was close to a deal with Russia to help its fight against groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIL or ISIS).

Leaders of countries in West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in France’s supposed counter-terrorism efforts and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.

The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatists started targeting the local population in Mali.

Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.

Anti-French sentiment is rampant in Mali and Burkina Faso. On the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital, many say that France is actually trying to keep the country weak so the former colonial power can exploit secret gold and oil reserves in the Sahara.

African nations that suffered under French colonial rule still remember France's colonial- era crimes, despite the passage of decades since their independence from Paris.

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