Media sources have confirmed an upcoming meeting between Presidents Assimi Goïta and Emmanuel Macron. It will be held in Bamako, and will be an opportunity for the two leaders to de-escalate the situation after several months of tension.
French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Bamako to meet with his counterpart Assimi Goïta (photo), media sources said.
The meeting announced for Monday, December 20, comes at a time of deteriorating Franco-Malian relations. Since Colonel Goïta came to power, Paris has constantly expressed reservations about the organization of the transition in Mali.
As a reminder, French authorities have strongly condemned the second coup d’état led by Assimi Goïta and questioned the credibility of the new power, while calling for the respect of commitments made by the former Transition led by Bah N’Daw, providing for elections in February 2022. Following the announcement of the impossibility of meeting this deadline, Paris supported the sanctions taken by ECOWAS and the African Union against the current regime.
In addition to this situation, there were dissensions concerning the fight against terrorism and the Russian-Malian rapprochement. Accused by the Malian Prime Minister, Choguel Maïga, of having « abandoned Mali in mid-air » after its decision to end Operation Barkhane, the Elysée has always defended itself from wanting to withdraw permanently from the Malian theater and speaks instead of a « redeployment » of its forces.
On the other hand, Paris accuses the Malian authorities of wanting to call on mercenaries close to Russia to lead the fight against terrorism. Bamako has never confirmed this information, rejecting any interference in the affairs of state and reaffirming its full sovereignty in the choice of its international partners.
Face-to-face, Emmanuel Macron and Assimi Goïta will have the opportunity to discuss all these urgent issues, at a time when « anti-French sentiment » seems to have never been so high in the Sahel, as evidenced by recent demonstrations calling for the blocking of French military convoys in Niger and Burkina Faso.
Although far from sufficient to definitively resolve tensions between the two parties, the meeting represents, according to several observers, a major step forward in finding common ground through diplomatic channels.
It should also be noted that President Macron’s visit comes at a time when French soldiers have already withdrawn from the Malian cities of Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu.