- Title: Prime minister Choguel Maiga returns to Mali after U.N. meeting
- Date: 28th September 2021
- Summary: GOURMA REGION, MALI (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FRENCH SOLDIERS STANDING ON ARMOURED VEHICLE VARIOUS OF FRENCH SOLDIERS CHECKING LOCAL RESIDENTS
- Embargoed: 12th October 2021 22:24
- Keywords: africa conflict elections france insurgencies islam mali politics russia vote west africa
- Location: BAMAKO AND GOURMA REGION, MALI
- City: BAMAKO AND GOURMA REGION, MALI
- Country: Mali
- Topics: Africa,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA003EWMWDVR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Prime Minister of Mali, Choguel Maiga, was met by cheering crowds on his return to Bamakao on Tuesday (September 28), days after declaring France was abandoning its former colony during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
Relations between Mali and France have soured since Paris said in June it would reshape its 5,000-strong counterterrorism mission in the region and Mali's military junta began talks to bring Russian mercenaries into the country.
France's armed forces minister earlier defended her country's counterterrorism role in Mali and accused the junta of hypocrisy, bad faith and wanting to delay a transition to democracy.
Speaking to state television ORTM and other media after returning to the Malian capital, Maiga said he did not want to comment on France's accusations at this stage.
But he added that the "Malian people have never been and will never be ungrateful."
Mali's progress back to democracy following the August 2020 overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is being closely monitored in a region that has experienced four coups in 13 months, two of them in Mali.
Mali's military leaders agreed to an 18-month transition that would culminate with presidential and legislative elections on February 27, 2022, but on Sunday (September 26) Maiga said that date could be postponed.
He also told the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday (September 25) that his country felt abandoned by the French move and signalled they were seeking other military help "to fill the gap" caused by the withdrawal of troops participating in Operation Barkhane in northern Mali.
(Production: Paul Lorgerie, Christophe Van Der Perre)
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