A gift to Hollande,camel calf served on Mali platter

Misunderstanding: Hollande had left the camel in Malian family’s custody,they slaughtered the calf to prepare regional stew

Written by New York Times | Paris | Published: April 11, 2013 1:11 am

STEVEN ERLANGER

As if President François Hollande of France did not have enough trouble with a stagnant economy and a scandal over his former budget minister’s secret overseas bank accounts,now his camel has been eaten.

Grateful Malian authorities gave the baby camel to Hollande during a triumphant visit to Mali in early February,after French troops intervened to drive back Islamist rebels who had seized the north of the country.

The French President,who was traveling with his Defence Minister,Jean-Yves Le Drian,joked then that he could use the camel in Paris to get around traffic jams. But the animal screeched constantly,and did not seem to enjoy the President’s attempt to pat it on the head. In the end,Hollande left his camel in the care of a family in Timbuktu.

The family,evidently misunderstanding the purpose of the custody arrangement,proceeded to slaughter the camel and feast on it. According to local reports,it was fashioned into a tasty tagine,a regional type of slow-simmered stew.

Embarrassed Malian authorities said on Tuesday that they would give Hollande a replacement camel,and that this time they would deliver it to him in France. “As soon as we heard of this,we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,” an official in Timbuktu told the Reuters.

“We are ashamed of what happened to the camel,” the official told the news agency. “The new camel will be sent to Paris. It was a present that did not deserve this fate.”

Le Drian,the Defence Minister,was in charge of giving Hollande updates on the camel’s status,and had to inform him of its piquant end last week,according to the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles. “The news came in from soldiers on the ground,” a French government official said.

French Senate clears crucial article of gay marriage bill

PARIS: France’s Senate on Wednesday approved the crucial first article of a bill granting gay couples the right to marry,clearing the way for a law that has sparked protests from conservatives and religious groups. The upper house approved the article overnight by a vote of 179 to 157. The bill must still be approved by the Senate,including another article granting homosexual couples the right to adopt. PTI

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