Mali’s Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador to Bamako on Tuesday over comments from President Emmanuel Macron who he said were hostile and unpleasant.
This is the latest salvo in a tense dispute between Mali and its key military partner, France, over reports that Bamako could recruit Russian mercenaries while Paris reforms its 5,000-strong counterterrorism mission in the region.
Mali’s prime minister has accused France of abandoning him in the joint fight against Islamist insurgents. Macron rejected the accusation last week and questioned the legitimacy of the Malian authorities overseeing a transition to elections after two coups in just over a year.
In response, Mali’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the French ambassador to inform him of the outrage and disapproval of the authorities.
At the meeting, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop “vigorously protested (Macron’s) regrettable comments, which are likely to harm the development of friendly relations,” the ministry said in a statement.
He said Diop also called for the two sides to take a constructive approach and prioritize fighting the insurgency in the region.
Violence in the Sahel, a barren strip of land that borders the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, has escalated in recent years despite the presence of thousands of United Nations, regional and Western troops.
Diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters that Mali’s one-year-old military junta is close to recruiting the Russian Wagner Group, and France has launched a diplomatic campaign to thwart it, saying such an arrangement is incompatible with a French presence. keep going.