Mali expels French ambassador after hostile remarks
Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made some remarks about Mali's military council which sparked sensitivities.
Mali has decided to expel the French ambassador due to Le Drian's "hostile statements" towards Mali. France is Mali's ex-colonial ruler, which has left the country in shambles.
This is the latest addition to the escalating bilateral relations between the two, coming after a coup.
"The government of the Republic of Mali informs the national and international public that today... the ambassador of France in Bamako, his excellency Joel Meyer... was notified of the decision of the government asking him to leave the national territory within 72 hours," read a statement by state television.
Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Mali's military council is "illegitimate" and that its decisions are "irresponsible." In addition to that, French Defense Minister said that Mali's leaders are stepping up "provocations" against France as an accusation.
These remarks were considered "hostile and outrageous," and were said, "despite repeated protests" in Mali.
"The Malian government vigorously condemns and rejects these remarks, which are contrary to the development of friendly relations between nations," it said.
However, the Malian government "reiterates its readiness to maintain dialogue and pursue cooperation with all its international partners, including France, in mutual respect and on the basis of the cardinal principle of non-interference."
Furthermore, Mali's foreign minister, Abdoulaye Diop, said on Friday that "France, which says it defends democracy, has gone to other countries and installed heads of state who have carried out coups, it has applauded them."
The statement is a reflection of France's 'selective outrage' when it came to coups and military rule.
Tensions have also risen when ECOWAS, the West Africa bloc, imposed trade sanctions on Mali, closing its borders - a move which is backed by France, the US, and the EU.
Defense Minister: France cannot stay in Mali 'whatever the price'
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Saturday that France cannot stay in Mali "whatever the price."
Speaking to France Inter, Parly said France would discuss the best path forward with other European allies that are also present in the country to "combat terrorism" by Islamic militants.
She then claimed, “We do the work we do at the demand of a sovereign state to combat terrorism that victimizes Mali’s population. But we can’t remain in Mali whatever the price.”
The French Minister concluded, “In short, we are not prepared to pay an unlimited price to remain in Mali.”