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The Malian autoridades, dominated by the military, decided on Monday expel al french ambassador, in a new and abrupt escalation of the dispute between Bamako and Paris. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs limited itself to “taking note” of a measure which, however, raises even more the question of the French military involvement in Mali.

The Malian Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened the head of the French diplomatic mission in Bamako, Joël Meyer, in office since October 2018, and “notified him of the government’s decision, which invites him to leave the national territory within 72 hours,” according to a statement read by state television.

The Malian autoridades justified this decision by the recent “hostile” and “scandalous” comments of French officials against them. “These statements tend to call into question the legality and legitimacy of the authorities to which the French ambassador is accredited (…) They cannot be accredited before authorities that you yourselves do not recognize,” declared the Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diopon state television.

deterioration of relationships

relationships with France, a former colonial power that has been fighting militarily against jihadists in Mali and the Sahel since 2013, have continued to deteriorate since the colonels took the country by force in August 2020. They worsened further in May 2021, with a new advance by the same colonels to tighten their control.

Meyer had already been called up in October 2021, when the French President Emmanuel Macron he reacted sharply to the statements of the head of the Malian government about the planned reduction of French troops and spoke of “abandonment in the air”. Macron spoke in turn of “shame” on the part of “what is not even a government.”

Tensions have risen further since the meeting of Colonel Assimi Goïta reversed its initial commitment to hold elections on February 27, and the ECOWAS West Africa organization imposed on January 9 severe diplomatic and economic sanctions to this poor, landlocked country. The junta now intends to remain in power for several years.

Russian mercenaries

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France and its European allies are also alarmed by the junta’s alleged use of mercenaries of the known Russian company Wagner, a group supposedly close to the Kremlin, accused of abuses in the Central African Republic and compromised in other scenarios.

The board insists on denying it. It has resisted part of the international community invoking national independence. accuses France instrumentalizing subregional organizations and maintaining their “colonial reflexes”.

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