Mali’s Military Expels French Ambassador

Mali’s military authorities on Jan. 31 gave the French ambassador to the country 72 hours to leave the country over what they called “hostile and outrageous” comments made by the French foreign minister.

“The French ambassador to Bamako was summoned and notified of a decision by the government inviting him to leave the national territory within 72 hours following hostile and outrageous comments by the French foreign affairs minister recently,” Mali’s military said in a statement read on national television.

Later in the day, French Foreign Ministry confirmed that it was recalling its ambassador, Joel Meyer, after the expulsion.

“France takes note of the transitional authorities’ decision to bring to an end the mission of France’s Ambassador to Mali. In reaction, France has decided to recall its ambassador,” the ministry said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Jan. 28 said that Mali’s junta was “illegitimate” and “out of control” amid rising tensions between the West African country and European countries following two coups.

On Jan. 29, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that France plans to reduce its own troop deployment, accusing Mali’s military leaders of stepping up “provocations” against France.

Relations between Mali and France deteriorated since the military seized power in August 2020.

Tensions further increased in recent weeks when the junta reversed an agreement to organize elections in February and proposed to hold power until 2025.

France has has troops in Mali since 2013 to help the West African country drive back Islamist militants that overran parts of the north.

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