Mali’s junta expels French ambassador as tensions mount

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BAMAKO, Mali — Mali’s ruling junta on Monday told the French ambassador to leave the West African country, according to a government statement, amid mounting tensions between Mali and its international partners.

The action puts into question a French-led anti-terrorist military operation present in Mali at the request of Malian leaders.

The Malian government summoned French Ambassador Joel Meyer on Monday and said he had 72 hours to leave the country, according to a Malian government statement announced on state television.

“This measure follows the hostile and outrageous comments made recently by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the recurrence of such comments by the French authorities with regard to the Malian authorities, despite repeated protests,” the statement added.

The statement didn’t specify which French comments it was referring to.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said last week that Mali’s junta is “illegitimate and takes irresponsible measures.”

French government ministers have said in recent days they want to keep troops in Mali but have called for new discussions with Mali’s leaders and regional powers on the conditions for them to stay.

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