The Malian Prime Minister Choquel Maïga multiplies the outings hostile to France. Declarations, marked by the anti-French political feeling of the Malian people, which bother Paris more and more.
“Some countries use ECOWAS and UEMOA to settle other scores”. Called to comment on the sanctions imposed by West African presidents, Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maïga did not have his tongue in his pocket. And if he fires red balls at his neighbors, Maïga is indeed indirectly targeting France. And sometimes even head-on: Choguel Maïga believes that Paris is working for the “disintegration” of the Malian state and judges the military agreements between Paris and Bamako “unbalanced”.
This is not the first time that Maïga has charged Paris. Judging the announced departure of Barkhane from Mali as "a kind of abandonment in full flight" on the part of France, the Malian Prime Minister has once again lost his temper. This time, he lumps together Paris, ECOWAS and WAEMU.
ECOWAS in the line of sight
“The purpose of the illegal and illegitimate sanctions of ECOWAS and UEMOA is to destabilize the Malian state and to finish off a people already on the ground, he assures. By comparing these sanctions with the fundamental texts of these organizations, you will realize that there has been an abuse of power. We chose the extremely weak state of Mali in which he found himself because of geopolitical considerations,” said Choguel Maïga.
Speaking of "geopolitical considerations", Maïga deplores in particular the interests of several countries that have become intimately linked to France - such as Togo, Côte d'Ivoire or Niger - which take a dim view of the regimes turning to Russia.
On January 15, Choguel Maïga aimed a little more violently at France which, to listen to him, believes it is a little too much at home in Mali. "We want to reread the unbalanced agreements which make us a state which cannot even fly over its territory without the authorization of France", he said, when discussing its airspace.
If Paris cries populism, considering that Maïga is profiting from an anti-French political feeling - shared by more and more Malians -, and that the Prime Minister exaggerates with regard to the authorizations to fly over Mali, Maïga seems to really want review the agreements that bind the two countries.
Fewer privileges for France
What the Prime Minister would particularly like to review is the overall framework of French military intervention. While France and Mali have agreements for Barkhane, then Takuba, Bamako would prefer bilateral agreements with each country.
Regarding France in particular, Choguel Maïga would like to be tougher. He would like to end the visa exemptions granted to French soldiers and impose more control on the import of military equipment.
A desire to move forward which sooner or later will cause concern to France, which considers itself essential on the military ground in Mali. The Prime Minister says aloud what the others think quietly. What to fear for his future at the head of the Malian government. “His regular attacks against France could be fatal to him”, sums up a seasoned observer for whom Paris is relying on ECOWAS sanctions to put even more pressure on the military junta in place.
However, Maïga speaks undeniable truths. When France announced its withdrawal from Mali, the Prime Minister affirmed "to regret that the principle of consultation and consultation which must be the rule between privileged partners was not observed upstream of the French decision".
Choguel Maïga, Paris and Russia
But where Maïga bothers even more is when he criticizes the French record. Certainly, Mali had asked the France of François Hollande, in 2013, for help. But the Prime Minister assures that Bamako had only requested "air support" and "intelligence" and that Mali, still according to him, did not want a military presence on the ground.
Choguel Maïga therefore turned, like its president, to Russia. Since Mali began discussions with the paramilitary group Wagner, Paris sees red and believes that this is "irreconcilable" with its own presence there. But Choguel Maïga wonders what could be “surprising in the fact that we want to strengthen our collaboration with Russia? 80% of the Malian soldiers have done their training in Russia, a good part of our military equipment comes from Russia”.
Since then, between France and Mali, there has been a lack of love. Paris is no stranger to the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and UEMOA in recent days. "Bamako is a bit like the ex-girlfriend who was treated with condescension and who made him pay for a breakup," quipped a diplomatic source.