Junta in Mali gives the French ambassador 72 hours to leave the country

Mali on Monday gave the French ambassador 72 hours to leave the country after describing comments from the French foreign minister about its transitional government as “hostile and outrageous” 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 after two coups.

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

“The French ambassador to Bamako was called and informed of a decision by the government urging him to leave the national territory within 72 hours after hostile and outrageous comments from the French Foreign Minister recently,” the government statement said.

In a statement later Monday, the French Foreign Ministry said it was recalling its ambassador from Mali following the country’s decision to expel the envoy.

“France notes the transitional authorities’ decision to end the French ambassador’s mission in Mali. In response, France has decided to recall its ambassador,” the ministry said in a statement.

“France reiterates its commitment to the stabilization and development of the Sahel together with its partners in the Sahel coalition,” it added.

France has had troops in Mali since 2013, when they intervened to drive back Islamist militants on their way to the capital. The Islamists have since regrouped and are waging an increasingly bloody uprising over the Sahel region.

Deteriorating relations Relations between Mali and its former colonizer deteriorated this month as the junta returned to an agreement to organize elections in February and proposed retaining power until 2025.

Russian private military contractors have also been deployed, which some European countries have said is incompatible with their mission.

Last week, Mali asked Denmark to withdraw its troops belonging to a European task force in the country, which started a new crisis. France asked Mali to let the Danish troops stay, and Mali’s government spokesman told France to keep its “colonial reflexes” to itself.

Reports that the French ambassador has been declared Persona Non Grata by #Mali transitional authorities are unacceptable

Denmark is in full solidarity with France

Such irresponsible behavior is not what we expect from Mali, will lose international credibility # dkpol

– Reports that the French ambassador has been declared Persona Non Grata by Mali’s transitional authorities are unacceptable. Denmark is in full solidarity with France, “said Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod in a tweet on Friday.

“Such irresponsible behavior is not what we expect from Mali, it will lose international credibility.”

European allies agreed on Friday to draw up plans within two weeks to continue their fight against Islamist militants in Mali, said Denmark’s defense minister, after France said the situation with the junta had become unsustainable.

( Jowharwith REUTERS)

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