France "takes note" of Mali's decision to expel ambassador

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French authorities reacted to Monday's announcement regarding the expulsion of its ambassador from Mali.

The French foreign ministry issued a brief statement saying it "takes note" of the announcement expressing "solidarity with its European partners", also involved in the anti-jihadist mission.

"French ambassador Joel Meyer has not been declared persona non grata, but the government of Mali wished for him to leave the territory within 72 hours for reasons related to the outrageous statements that were made against the transitional authorities, which we found unacceptable and which we have rejected", said Abdoulaye Diop, Mali's Foreign Minister, on Monday.

The government official added "these comments question both the legality and the legitimacy of the authority with which the French ambassador is accredited. This creates a very difficult situation because you cannot be accredited with authorities that you yourself do not recognise".

Despite the hard words, Mali's foreign minister was quick to clarify that the expulsion of the French ambassador did not mean French nationals were not welcome in his country.

"This difference that we have with France does not affect the French nationals who are among us. Nor does it affect the French companies that can continue to go about their business here. The French remain welcome in Mali", said Abdoulaye Diop.

Tensions between France, its European allies and Mali's government increased after the junta reportedly hired Russian mercenaries from the paramilitary group Wagner to fight jihadists.

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