France's 'blind support' for Mali's regime blamed for helping trigger coup

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While the authorities in Paris knew that the position of Mali's president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was weak, they were not expecting the military coup that led to his resignation on August 18th. France's recent unyielding stance in negotiations between Mali's government and opposition, and its unflagging support for prime minister Boubou Cissé, are meanwhile now being highlighted as potential causes of the current crisis. Some observers say that without France's 'blind' support for the Malian government the soldiers might not have staged the coup at all. Rémi Carayol reports.

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The French authorities have attempted to put a brave face on events in Mali since President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta – known as IBK – was forced to resign following a military coup on Tuesday August 18th. Indeed, France's reaction was among the most conciliatory of all the West African country's main partners and allies. It is true that Paris was swift in its condemnation of the coup. But whereas fellow members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) took a tough line, calling for IBK to be both released and restored to the presidency, France adopted a more nuanced stance.