Mali’s government has given the French ambassador 72 hours to leave the country over “outrageous” comments by the French authorities about its transitional government.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that Mali’s ruling junta was “out of control” amid escalating tensions between the West African state and its European partners over military cooperation and elections.
He also called the junta illegitimate.
French defence minister Florence Parly said on Saturday French troops would not stay in Mali if the price were too high.
“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,” the government statement said.
Relationships are breaking down
Relations between Mali’s military junta and its international partners are close to breaking down after it failed to organise an election following two military coups.
On Wednesday, the junta told France to stop interfering in the affairs of its former colony and to keep its “colonial reflexes” to itself.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that the situation had become untenable, as the European allies agreed to draw up plans within two weeks on how to adapt their campaign, which covers Mali and the wider Sahel region, to changing circumstances.
“The conditions of our intervention, whether military, economic or political, have become harder and harder to manage,” Parly said.
“In short, we are not prepared to pay an unlimited price to remain in Mali.”
But she said the ministers from the 15 countries involved in the European special force were for now united in wanting to maintain the mission, “so we must determine its new conditions.”