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AFRICA; Mali’s foreign ministry summons French ambassador Over President Emmanuel Macron’s Comment

Mali’s foreign ministry has summoned the country’s French ambassador after France’s President Emmanuel Macron questioned the legitimacy of the African nation’s interim leadership.

Tensions between France and Mali have been rising since Mali’s Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maiga, accused France of abandoning his country “mid-flight” in the fight against Islamist militants.

Radio France International reported that Macron last week rejected the allegations and said the Malian prime minister’s comments were a disgrace and “dishonors what isn’t even a government.”

The French ambassador has been called to a meeting to inform him of the Malian authorities’ disapproval of the French leader’s comments, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said in an emailed statement late Tuesday.

France said earlier this year it would scale down its troop presence in Mali to about 2,500 soldiers from just over 5,000 troops in the region now.

Macron told French media it was not the role of the French army to fill in for what he described as the “non-work” of the Malian state.

“The minister called on the French authorities to show restraint, avoiding value judgements,” the Mali’s foreign ministry’s said.

Last month, Mali’s interim Prime Minister, Choguel Maïga, accused France of “abandoning” the nation “mid-flight” after the European country decided to reduce its troops there by up to half.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since last year’s military coup in Mali.

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