The ruling junta in Mali “demanded” French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday that he put an end to “his neo-colonial posture” and silence his criticisms of the Malian army, accusing it of stirring up ethnic hatred.
“The transitional government demands that President Macron definitively abandon his neo-colonial, paternalistic and condescending stance to understand that no one can love Mali better than the Malians,” the government spokesman told public television. Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga. The latter reacted to remarks made Thursday in Bissau by the French head of state.
Referring to Mali, faced with a serious security crisis and the scene of two military coups in 2020 and 2021, Mr. Macron considered that the responsibility of West African states was to work so that “the Malian people can (. ..) express its popular sovereignty” and “build the framework of stability” allowing to “fight effectively against terrorist groups”.
“Since it is clear that the choices made by the Malian junta today and its de facto complicity with the Wagner militia are particularly ineffective in the fight against terrorism, that is no longer their objective and that is what which presided over our choice to leave Malian soil,” he added.
The French Barkhane force is packing up in Mali. Bamako for its part has always denied having appealed to the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, present in Mali on a “commercial basis” according to Russia.
“Stirring up ethnic hatred”
Sunday evening, Mr. Maïga also criticized “erroneous accusations” from Mr. Macron “despite the denials” of Mali.
Bamako also condemned “with the utmost rigor” the “hateful and defamatory” remarks of President Macron alerting to the abuses attributed to the Malian army against members of the Fulani community during recent operations.
The Malian army and the Russian paramilitaries have been accused in particular of having carried out a massacre of civilians in the locality of Moura (center) where, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch, some 300 civilians were executed at the end of March.
These “serious accusations” by Mr. Macron are likely to “arouse ethnic hatred” in Mali where, recognizes Bamako, “in recent years the social fabric has been degraded because of community conflicts”.
“It is important for President Macron to constantly remember France’s negative role and responsibility in the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda,” spokesman Maïga said.
Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated sharply over the past year. After nine years of military presence in Mali, via Operation Serval and then Barkhane, France was pushed out by the Malian military authorities, six months after the arrival of paramilitaries from the Wagner group.