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Mali gives Hollande new camel after first one eaten by caretakers

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-10

Malian authorities are set to give French President François Hollande a new camel after the first one he was given as thanks for France’s military intervention in Mali was killed and eaten by the family who was meant to look after it in Timbuktu.

Things have not been going well for French President François Hollande as of late. His approval ratings already abysmally low, Hollande’s leadership was called into question last week after his government became embroiled in a tax scandal. To add insult to injury, it has also recently been revealed that a camel he was given as thanks for France’s military intervention in Mali was slaughtered and eaten by the family meant to care for it in Timbuktu.

But there seems to be a small silver lining in the storm cloud that has settled over Hollande’s presidency – embarrassed over the whole camel business, Malian authorities are set to give the French leader an even better dromedary to replace the one that was devoured.

“As soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,” said a local government official, quoted by the Reuters news agency. “The new camel will be sent to Paris. We are ashamed of what happened to the camel. It was a present that did not deserve this fate.”

Hollande was presented with the first camel on a visit to Mali in February, several weeks after deploying French troops to the former French colony in order to help combat the Islamist militants that had taken control of the northern half of the country. The president joked at the time about using the camel to get around traffic-jammed Paris. But he chose in the end to leave it with a family in Timbuktu.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was tasked with giving Hollande regular updates on the camel’s status and had to inform him of its death last week, French media reported.

French leaders have received many gifts of exotic or wild animals from around the world over the years. In a separate and unrelated incident last week, a robber chainsawed a tusk off the skeleton of an elephant offered to Louis XIV by a Portuguese king in 1668.

Police caught the thief as he fled with the tusk under his arm.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-10

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