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President Emmanuel Macron has expressed outrage over recent claims by Mali interim Prime Minster that France had abandoned his country by drawing down its Barkhane force in the Sahel. Macron told RFI the accusations were "shameful".
After the French foreign ministry and armed forces, President Macron took his turn to denounce comments Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga made to the UN last weekend, and he made no attempt at diplomacy.
Speaking on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the Africa 2020 season at the Élysée Palace, Macron told RFI Maiga's comments were "unacceptable" and questioned the legitimacy of the interim government to make them.
"The Malian Prime Minister was born of two coups, if I may say. There was a coup d'état in August 2020 then a coup d'état within the coup d'état." Democratically-speaking, Macron added, "the current government has zero credibility".
The comments were even more inadmissibile, Macron said, given the death of French soldier Maxime Blasco, killed in action in Mali and to whom France paid tribute on Wednesday.
"We presided over the national tribute to Sergeant Blasco and he is now buried among his family. What the Malian Prime Minister said is inadmissible, it's shameful. And it dishonours what is not even a government.”
Paris has already strongly condemned and denied Maiga's accusations that the end of the Barkhane force amounted to "a kind of abandonment in mid-flight".
“I know that this is not what Malians think," said Macron. “Malians are the first victims of jihadist terrorism. So many of them are thinking of the children they've lost through terrorism, but they are also thinking of soldiers' families whose sons died thousands of kilometres away helping to save Mali.
"That the current Malian leadership shows such contempt for our soldiers, for the lives shed, is unacceptable."
Macron said he expected "nothing" from the Malian government, and confirmed the country had to respect its commitment to organise elections in February, as agreed with the west African bloc ECOWAS, and stop putting political leaders in prison.