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Mali’s Prime Minister Praises Russia, Denounces France at UNGA

© AFP 2023 / BRYAN R. SMITHActing Prime Minister of Mali Abdoulaye Maiga addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 24, 2022. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)
Acting Prime Minister of Mali Abdoulaye Maiga addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 24, 2022. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.09.2022
Mali's Prime Minister Abdoulaye Maiga's speech at the UN General Assembly comes amid growing dissatisfaction with France's activities in a number of African countries, where protesters have been pointing out that the French failed to provide them with security, and in some instances demanding French troops to leave their countries.
At the 77th session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Mali’s prime minister Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga criticized France and the UN secretary-general, saying that his country has been ”stabbed in the back by the French authorities, who unilaterally decided to withdraw the Barkhane force from Mali".
At the same time the prime minister praised "the exemplary and fruitful cooperative relations between Mali and Russia".
The prime minister denounced the French junta for its "neocolonial, condescending, paternalistic and revanchist practice", blaming France for sponsoring "unprecedented, illegal, illegitimate and inhuman sanctions of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and UEMOA [West African Economic and Monetary Union] against Mali".

"After more than 10 years of insecurity having caused thousands of deaths, is it not a sacrilege to put a Malian population in a landlocked country under embargo for seven months, closing the borders and seizing the financial accounts of Mali?" Maiga asked.

Maiga also accused the French junta of obscurantism because the French were "exploiting ethnic disputes, forgetting its responsibility in the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda... violating Malian airspace by flying aerial vectors such as drones, military helicopters and fighter planes more than 50 times [and] ... providing information, arms and ammunition to terrorist groups".
Malian former president Amadou Toumani Toure (2nd L) looks on flanked by Malian Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga (R) after disembarking from a plane in Bamako on December 24, 2017 - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.08.2022
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The Mali leader also recalled that France intervened in "Libya despite the condemnation of all Africa", made "thousands of Africans" participate "in the First and Second World Wars", was involved in "the slave trade which is behind the economic success of many developed countries".
Speaking about the UN’s peace-keeping forces in the African country, Maiga stated that "nearly 10 years after its establishment, the objectives for which MINUSMA [the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] was deployed in Mali have not been achieved.”

Withdrawal of French Troops from Mali

French troops have been located in Mali for nine years with the purpose of "fighting terrorism in Sahel" as part of Operation Barkhane.
Last month France withdrew its last troops from the African country, after falling out with Mali's military government, wrapping up the withdrawal process that was started in December 2021.
A French military helicopter over the Nigerien town Madama, which serves as a forward operating base for the French, Niger and Chad armies in Operation Barkhane - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.02.2022
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"This day at 1:00pm (13:00 GMT), the last detachment of the Barkhane force present on Malian soil crossed the border between Mali and Niger," the press release from the French Ministry of the Armed Forces read.
After leaving Mali, the French sent its troops to neighboring Niger, where a series of anti-French demonstrations broke out recently.
The end of the operation in Mali went along with Mali's accusation of France assisting terrorists inside the African country.
"The government of Mali has several pieces of evidence that these flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect intelligence for the benefit of terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition on them,” Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop stated in a letter to the United Nations Security Council on 15 August.

Growing Dissatisfaction

In recent months, several anti-French and anti-UN demonstrations have taken place in Mali, as well as in other countries of the Sahel - a semi-arid region and a hotbed of Islamism, where French troops are located.
On 22 September, protests against UN peace-keepers broke out in Mali's capital city Bamako. A huge crowd of protestors with Malian flags marched on the streets chanting anti-UN slogans. Many of the protestors were also carrying Russian flags.
"MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] has done nothing here. We want them to leave," "We want our soldiers, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta [interim President of Mali since 2021]," said another of the protesters, cited by AfricaNews.
A supporter of Malian Interim President holds up the flag of Mali during a pro-Junta and pro-Russia rally in Bamako on May 13, 2022. - Several hundred Malians have gathered in Bamako to support the junta, the army and military cooperation with the Russians, AFP journalists report. (Photo by OUSMANE MAKAVELI / AFP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.09.2022
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"They can go back to their homes and stay there. We don't need their help anymore. Assimi Goïta is enough for us. The Malian youth is enough for us," added yet another person, taking part in the demonstration.
On 14 May, Malians demonstrated in Bamako with similar demands. They called for France to withdraw and help from Russia.
A wave of protests has also swept through other African countries.
On 18 September, many inhabitants of Niger took to the streets of the capital, Niamey, demonstrating against French troops deployed to Niger after leaving Mali.
This handout photograph taken on June 28, 2022 and released by the Etat Major des Armees (The french Defence Staff) shows French soldiers of the Barkhane force boarding a transport airplane of the Interarmy Transit Detachment (DETIA), in Gao, amid the French military drawdown with troops leaving the last bases in Mali - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.08.2022
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In May, students in Chad protested against the presence of French troops in the country, blaming France for stealing its natural resources. The protesters chanted “Chad is Free and France is out.”
In November 2021 people in Burkina Faso and Niger blocked and stoned a large French military supply convoy travelling from Ivory Coast to Mali, shouting anti-French slogans.
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