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French food donation in Mali: The junta confronted with the sovereignty of the begging bowl!

Faced with growing difficulties due to its attitude of opposing the international community, the junta resolved to allow France to grant a large food donation to the population, which it nevertheless continued to present as the absolute enemy of Mali. Contradiction certainly, but especially sign of inflection or of… weakness!

The announcement was made by the French Embassy on its twitter account, Friday, May 6 during a ceremony at the ambassador’s residence: France grants support of 2.625 billion CFA francs, or 4.1 million US dollars, in food aid for 1.8 million people. in a food crisis situation in 2022 “, is it specified in the publication announcing this operation.

The diplomatic representation of France in Mali explained that ” thanks to this funding, the organizations will come directly to the aid of populations in difficulty, by distributing food and supporting food production “.

Awkward silence

However, the embassy specifies that this ” new food aid is allocated to WFP Mali, as well as to Première Urgence Mali and Solidarité Mali, local branches of two international NGOs.

Normally, such an announcement attracts little more attention than only the actors concerned and involved in the humanitarian field. This time, however, the news had the effect of a small bombshell in public opinion and almost everyone held their breath, waiting for a reaction, certainly incendiary, of indignant rejection from the Malian junta. What is more, and certainly given the lukewarm relations between the two countries, the French party has not associated any state structure with the granting of this aid, colossal in terms of its financial volume, placing its trust instead in non- authorities to carry out food support.

The announcement of French support, even if localized, surprised more than one Malian. It must be said that the extremely stormy relations between Mali and France have reached such a degree of deterioration that practically all aspects of cooperation between the two States are impacted. Mali, for some six months or more, has been resolutely engaged in a process of total rupture with France and the confrontation has never reached such a level for nearly 60 years.

A week before this announcement, Mali had just loudly denounced the defense agreements that had linked the two countries for almost a decade, thus breaking the last cooperative relations between Paris and Bamako.

The rupture of the defense agreements was consecutive to the attempt of the Malian power to accuse France, in particular its army, of being guilty of a mass grave comprising an undetermined number of victims.

The military power of Bamako had fallen into the trap of the scenario previously described and documented by France. She had predicted what she described as a charade, so that the Gossi mass grave affair was a masterful flop, even if the powerful Malian Minister of Defense, Colonel Sadio Camara, could not s prevent, this Tuesday, May 10 during its recent cathodic appearance on national television, from trying to insist on always charging the French forces.

All this occurs in a context of deteriorating relations between the two, whose leaders have hardly spared each other invectives and bird names since Colonel Assimi Goïta’s second coup on May 26, 2021, to the point that Mali had expelled with the same brutality the French ambassador Joël Meyer, expelled manu militari from the country.

Bowl Diplomacy

The silence of the military authorities, who have so far not uttered a word in reaction to this announcement of a food donation, reflects a certain uneasiness at the level of Camp Sundiata where more and more, realism seems to prevail over brave postures and inflammatory remarks.

The government spokesman, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, Minister of Administration and therefore the guardianship of NGOs, remained silent in the face of the event which no Malian official seems to have attended. The junta is faced with the obvious: ”the rise in power of the Famas” does not rhyme with the restoration of the security essential to allow the populations of the zones of this ”rise in power” to reconnect with the cycles and life activities. Better still, the very noticeable passage of the Famas in certain areas of engagement further upset the precarious balance of intercommunity relations and significantly increased the cohort of internally displaced persons.

To the fiery anti-French diatribes, the junta has therefore opted for a silence all the more embarrassed that Mali has little alternative to this food support, essential for the poor populations of the center and north of the country. Donors and other humanitarian partners are not rushing to the Malian gates, more so at this time when the asymmetry of commitments and the consequences of official guidelines are causing many civilian casualties among the population of the areas concerned.

Obviously, the Russian “instructors” are no longer sufficient to fill the many gaps in immature postures, giving rise to systematic confrontations with partners and their subsequent progressive disengagement.

France will still and for a long time remain an essential and indispensable partner in compensating for the State’s inability to provide relief to populations who are victims of armed violence and in a situation of food insecurity.

The Malian junta today therefore seems forced into the diplomacy of the begging bowl, by making a good heart against bad luck

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