On Monday January 31st the military-civilian junta running Mali told France's ambassador to leave the country in a further escalation of the tension that has developed between the two nations in recent months. As Rémi Carayol observes, the next stage in the bitter war of words could be an announcement from Paris that France's military forces in the African country will be withdrawn.
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.
When French troops intervened in Mali in early 2013 the aim was to shore up a faltering regime and help bring stability and strong government to the former colony. Instead just over two years later the African nation seems on the edge of a political catastrophe. There has been a growing number of attacks and armed clashes in the country and the United Nations mission that replaced the French military operation has suffered heavy casualties. Meanwhile there has been little or no political progress domestically as everyone waits for the signature of a peace agreement which will result in a de facto partition of the country. Thomas Cantaloube reports.
Eighteen months ago Mediapart reported from Mali on its attempts to rebuild itself after France's military intervention to thwart an imminent terrorist takeover. At the time there was cautious optimism within the fractured African country that it could construct a more positive future. Now Mediapart has returned to Mali and the mood is very different. The cautious hopes about the future have largely given way to frustration amid the return of old-style politics and corruption. Meanwhile the country remains under the effective control of international institutions and foreign countries. As Thomas Cantaloube reports from the capital Bamako, the lack of real progress in Mali also symbolises a French vision of foreign affairs that is strong on military intervention but short on political content.