France “takes note” of the expulsion of its ambassador to Mali, the French Foreign Ministry said on Monday, recalling its solidarity with its European partners and its commitment to continue the fight against terrorism.

Malian authorities dominated by the military have decided to expel the French ambassador, in a new escalation of the estrangement between Bamako and Paris, announced Monday January 31 the state television. “The Government of the Republic of Mali informs national and international opinion that today (…) the French Ambassador in Bamako, His Excellency Joël Meyer, was summoned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ( and) that he has been notified of the government’s decision inviting him to leave the national territory within 72 hours“, announced a statement read by state television.

The Malian authorities have justified this decision by recent statements “hostileof French officials against them. “France takes note of the decision of the (Malian) transitional authorities to put an end to the mission of the French ambassador to Mali. In response, France decided to recall its ambassador“Said the Quai d’Orsay. Paris also expressesits solidarity with its European partners, in particular Denmark», whose contingent has just been expelled by the junta in power in Bamako “on the basis of unfounded grounds”.

The statement also recalls the “solidarity” of Paris with regard to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), whose representative in Mali was also expelled, as well as “its commitment to the stabilization and development of the Sahel, alongside its partners in the Coalition for the Sahel”. “The EU stands in solidarity with France and Denmark, whose contingent has been sent back. The situation requires respect for commitments on the Malian side and dialogue., also declared the head of diplomacy of the European Union, Josep Borrell. This summons marks a new hardening of tensions between Mali and France, the former colonial power engaged militarily in Mali and the Sahel since 2013. Relations have continued to deteriorate since colonels took over by force in August 2020 the head of this country plunged since 2012 into a deep security and political crisis.

“Humiliation”

French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly declared on January 25 that the junta was multiplying “the provocations“. His French Foreign Affairs colleague Jean-Yves Le Drian, two days later, called the junta “illegitimate» and his decisions of «irresponsibleafter Malian authorities pushed Denmark to withdraw its special forces contingent. The expulsion of Joël Meyer, 60, in post in Bamako since October 2018, “follows the hostile and outraged remarks made recently by the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the recurrence of such remarks by the French authorities with regard to the Malian authorities despite the repeated protestsSays the press release read on Malian television, the authorities’ preferred channel of communication.

The Government of Mali strongly condemns and rejects these remarks which are contrary to the development of friendly relations between nations», Adds the text, in which Bamako «reiterates its readiness 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“. “These statements tend to call into question both the legality and the legitimacy of the authorities to which the French ambassador is accredited (…) You cannot be accredited to authorities that you yourself do not recognize”, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said in the evening on state television. The Minister also assured that the “dispute” current between capitals “does not affect French nationals who are among us or French companies”.

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69 days before the first round of the presidential election in France, several candidates reacted to the expulsion of the French ambassador to Mali. “France has lost a crazy influence in Africa”said RN presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Europe1, believing that Emmanuel Macron had “once again, accumulated failures in this area” and evoking a “humiliation”. “We are fighting to expel the jihadists from Mali, but Mali is expelling our ambassador. Our soldiers are dying for a country that humiliates us! France’s entire African policy needs to be rethought.estimated his great far-right rival Eric Zemmour (Reconquest!).

On the right, candidate LR criticized a lack of anticipation from the executive, believing that “the dismissal of our ambassador is a humiliation”. According to her, France must remain “in the Sahel to protect this territory from the Islamist threat which can totally destabilize Africa”. On the left, the rebellious Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has long been hostile to the presence of French troops in Mali, considers that he “It’s time for France to come back to reality and to empty the abscess with the current Malian power. And that the National Assembly be seized and decide on an action plan “, “before the sacrifices and our deaths in Mali have been rendered in vain, before the tearing is complete”.

A series of diplomatic and economic sanctions

The junta has entered into resistance in recent months against a large part of the international community and Mali’s partners, who are pressing for a return of civilians to the head of the country. France and its European allies are also alarmed by the call made, according to them, by the junta to the mercenaries of the sulphurous Russian company Wagner, a group reputed to be close to the Kremlin, accused of abuses in the Central African Republic and engaged in other theaters . The junta persists in denying it.

The junta, which intends to remain in charge of Mali for several years, fought back against pressure by invoking national sovereignty. Malian officials have themselves come down hard on France, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which imposed a series of severe diplomatic and economic sanctions on January 9. in Mali.

Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, minister and spokesperson for the so-called transitional government, launched a virulent charge on Wednesday against Florence Parly and France, accused of seeking to divide Malians, “to instrumentalize» sub-regional organizations and to maintain its «colonial reflexes“. He had given foradviceto Florence Parly to shut up.

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