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France calls Mali coup ‘unacceptable,’ threatens sanctions

Condemns attempted coup to overthrow government representatives in charge of civilian transition

Shweta Desai   | 25.05.2021
France calls Mali coup ‘unacceptable,’ threatens sanctions French President Emmanuel Macron holds a press conference after attending the EU Leaders' Summit in Brussels, Belgium on May 25, 2021. ( Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency )

PARIS

France condemned the military coup in Mali and threatened sanctions against military officials if the president and the prime minister are not released immediately.

"We condemn the situation in Mali with the greatest firmness," President Emmanuel Macron said in Brussels after a EU summit meeting. “We are ready in the next few hours to take possible sanctions against the protagonists," he said.

In a separate tweet, Macron called the coup “unacceptable.”

Hours before Macron’s statement, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, addressing the national assembly, demanded the immediate release of President Bah Ndaw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and the “resumption of the normal course of the transition.”

Ndaw, Ouane and Defense Minister Souleymane Doucoure, tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule, were arrested by military officials in an "attempted coup" late Monday.

“The civilian character of the transition is a sine qua non of its credibility,” said Le Drian. He added if there was no return to the order of the transition, “we will take immediate targeting measures against the military officials and that hinders the transition.”

Le Drian said the situation would be discussed urgently at the UN Security Council and the African Union, Committee of the Economic Committee of West African States of ECOWAS.

Mali's neighbors and the EU were all unanimous in the condemnation of the coup.

France has a strong military presence and high political stakes in Mali’s security. Following a coup in 2012, it deployed troops to oust Islamist extremists and prevent a takeover of the northern region.

Since 2013, more than 5,000 French soldiers have been deployed under Operation Barkhane led by France alongside G5 Sahel countries to fight armed extremist groups in the region, particularly al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Daesh in the Greater Sahara.

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