Mali junta expels French Ambassador: State TV

Tuesday February 01 2022
Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop

Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop (centre). PHOTO | FILE


Mali is expelling the French ambassador in the light of "hostile statements" by officials of its former colonial ruler, state TV announced Monday, in a new escalation of bilateral tensions following a coup.

"The government of the Republic of Mali informs the national and international public that today... the ambassador of France in Bamako, his excellency Joel Meyer... was notified of the decision of the government asking him to leave the national territory within 72 hours," a statement read over state television said.

Relations between Mali and France have frayed since the army seized power in August 2020.

Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters that Mali's junta was "illegitimate" and its decisions "irresponsible."

Defence Minister Florence Parly accused the country's rulers of stepping up "provocations" of France.

Monday's statement said remarks had been made that were "hostile and outrageous," and had been uttered "despite repeated protests" by Mali.


"The Malian government vigorously condemns and rejects these remarks, which are contrary to the development of friendly relations between nations," it said.

However, it added, the Malian government "reiterates its readiness to maintain dialogue and pursue cooperation with all its international partners, including France, in mutual respect and on the basis of the cardinal principle of non-interference."

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop on Friday accused France of selective outrage when it came to military rule.

"France, which says it defends democracy, has gone to other countries and installed heads of state who have carried out coups, it has applauded them," he said.

France has thousands of troops deployed in the Sahel to support Mali, as well as Niger and Burkina Faso, facing a bloody jihadist insurgency.

Tensions have also risen since the West Africa bloc Ecowas imposed a trade embargo and border closures this month, in a move backed by France, the United States and the European Union.

The sanctions followed a junta proposal to stay in power for up to five years before staging elections, despite an earlier commitment to hold a vote by the end of February 2022.

Rebel officers led a coup in August 2020 that toppled Mali's elected leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was facing angry protests at failures to stem the jihadists.