French president Emmanuel Macron welcomed news of Sophie Pétronin's release as well as that of Soumaïla Cissé – a prominent Malian politician who was abducted in Mali on March 25.
France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched an internal inquiry into Gilles Huberson, ambassador to Ivory Coast, after several women accused him of sexist and sexual violence, Mediapart has learnt. Huberson, who occupies one of France's most prestigious diplomatic postings in Africa, is reported to have returned to Paris, even though Ivory Coast faces an important and potentially tense election in less than two months. Michel Pauron reports.
Two French soldiers were killed this weekend in Mali when their vehicle was targeted by an improvised explosive device, in what was a grim reminder of the difficulties the French military face in their campaign to defeat jihadist groups in the Sahel region. To strengthen its operations, France has begun deploying, for the first time anywhere, armed drones. But, as Rémi Carayol reports, while these have apparently reduced the capacity of the jihadists to launch mass attacks, the drone strikes have also made civilians fearful for their own safety, with the potential effect of losing support for the military campaign.
Two French soldiers died and a third was wounded after an explosive device was triggered beside their armoured vehicle in the north-east of Mali, bringing the total number of French military personnel killed since anti-terrorist operations in the country and Sahel region began seven years ago to 45.
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.
Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also discussed growing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and the coup in Mali, during talks at the French president's retreat in the south of France.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced his resignation on state television late Tuesday, hours after he and prime minister Boubou Cissé were arrested by mutinous soldiers.
Meanwhile West African leaders ended a day-long summit in Bamako without a consensus on how to alleviate Mali's political troubles.
French defence minister Florence Parly has announced an operation led by French forces this week killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, leader of al-Qaeda in North Africa, and that last month a senior Islamic State group commander in Mali had also been captured.
French officials have announced that Foreign Legion member Kévin Clement, 21, was killed in a firefight combat against armed groups in Mali’s Menaka region, bringing the total of fatalities among French forces engaged against jihadist forces in the north-west African country since 2013 to 43.
Brigadier Dymyto Martynyouk was struck by an improvised explosive device during an 'operation against terrorist groups' on April 23, officials said.
Sébastien Chadaud-Pétronin said he was relieved to know his mother Sophie Pétronin, abducted in 2016, was alive, but said he felt there was no way to get her 'out of this hell'.
French President Emmanuel Macron has held a summit in Pau, south-west France, with leaders of five West African states engaged alongside France in fighting jihadist forces in the Sahel when he announced a further 220 French troops would be sent to the region to join their 4,500 colleagues already on the ground and the creation of a joint command structure with regional states.
Facing hostility in five former colonies over a stalled fight against extremists, President Macron has taken a harsh public stance but few expect him to follow through.