France condemns 'coup d'état' in Mali, threatens EU sanctions

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President Emmanuel Macron and Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela attend the second day of the EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels on May 25, 2021.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President Emmanuel Macron and Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela attend the second day of the EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels on May 25, 2021. © John Thys, Pool/AFP

France on Tuesday condemned the ousting of transitional leaders in Mali who had been tasked with steering the return to civilian rule after a coup last August.

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Calling the ousters a "coup d'etat", President Emmanuel Macron threatened sanctions by the European Union.

"We are ready in the coming hours to take targeted sanctions" against those responsible, Macron said in Brussels after a summit of bloc's 27 leaders.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament in Paris that France was seeking an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council -- of which France is a permanent member -- to discuss the situation.

"France condemns with the greatest firmness the violent act that occurred in Mali yesterday," Le Drian told parliament.

"We demand the liberation" of President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane after strongman Assimi Goita stripped them of their powers, he said.

"Their safety must be guaranteed, as must the immediate resumption of the agreed transition process," Le Drian added.

He said France would "bring about the meeting" of the UN Council "this morning New York time" to "consider the serious situation in Mali".

Goita's move marks the latest crisis to hit the vast, impoverished West African country, which is already struggling with a brutal jihadist insurgency.

Ndaw and Ouane had been heading an interim government that was installed in September with the declared aim of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months.

(AFP)

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