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Monday, June 27, 2022

Mali’s junta expels French ambassador as tensions mount

The action puts into question a French-led anti-terrorist military operation present in Mali at the request of Malian leaders.

By: AP | Bamako, Mali |
January 31, 2022 10:19:48 pm
Since the second coup in May 2021 and the arrival of Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, tension has grown between the transitional authorities in Mali and the French government. (AP)

Mali’s ruling junta on Monday told the French ambassador to leave the West African country, according to a government statement, amid mounting tensions between Mali and its international partners.

The action puts into question a French-led anti-terrorist military operation present in Mali at the request of Malian leaders.

France’s government did not immediately react to the expulsion. This latest episode in the diplomatic crisis between Mali and France comes days after the Malian government ordered Danish soldiers deployed in the French-led Takuba military operation to leave Mali.

Tensions between Mali and its European and regional allies have been mounting in recent weeks as Mali’s interim leader Col. Assimi Goita has delayed elections until 2026, solidified his control and showed reluctance to uphold Mali’s international agreements.

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The Malian government summoned French Ambassador Joel Meyer on Monday and said he had 72 hours to leave the country, according to a Malian government statement announced on state television.

“This measure follows the hostile and outrageous comments made recently by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the recurrence of such comments by the French authorities with regard to the Malian authorities, despite repeated protests,” the statement added.

The statement didn’t specify which French comments it was referring to.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said last week that Mali’s junta is “illegitimate and takes irresponsible measures.”

French government ministers have said in recent days they want to keep troops in Mali but have called for new discussions with Mali’s leaders and regional powers on the conditions for them to stay.

Since the second coup in May 2021 and the arrival of Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, tension has grown between the transitional authorities in Mali and the French government. The situation worsened when some European countries, including France, claimed that Mali had deployed mercenaries from the Russian company Wagner.

Mali has been battling an Islamic insurgency in the north since 2012, and in 2013 France intervened in its former colony to stop jihadists who had seized swaths of the sprawling country, also at the request of Malian leaders.

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