Mali’s army-led government on Sunday urged French President Emmanuel Macron to abandon his “neo-colonial and patronizing” stance as relations between Paris and Bamako deteriorate further.
France is reconfiguring its stance in the Sahel after a spat with the military junta in Mali, the epicenter of a bloody 10-year jihadist campaign in the region.
Mali underwent coups in August 2020 and May 2021, sparking a political crisis that coincided with an ongoing security crisis.
France first intervened in Mali in 2013 to fight a jihadist insurgency that emerged a year earlier, but earlier this year Paris said it would withdraw its troops.
“The transitional government demands that President Macron permanently abandon his neocolonial, paternalistic and condescending attitude to understand that no one can love Mali more than Malians,” spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said on public television.
Maiga, on behalf of the junta, responded to Macron’s comments during a three-day visit to Benin, Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau last week.
Referring to the current situation in Mali, Macron said West African countries have a responsibility to ensure that the Malian people can “express the sovereignty of the people” and “build a framework of stability” to support the “effective fight against terrorist groups”. .
Macron also referred to a suspected deal between the Malian regime and Russian private security firm Wagner, which was a crucial factor in pushing Paris to withdraw its 2,400 troops.
Bamako denies any bet by the controversial Wagner group.
During his visit to Benin on Wednesday, Macron called Russia “one of the last imperial colonial powers” due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Mali has been rocked since 2012 by an uprising by groups linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group.
The violence that started in the north has spread to the center and neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.