French President Emmanuel Macron can often be blunt when it comes to Africa to the point of, what some critics call, arrogance. Yet, he never resorts to the complacent country club atmosphere that many of his predecessors did and which can be summed up by the term Françafrique.

Macron pushes for France and other European countries to heavily invest in Africa and has also tried to break with France’s colonial past. Yet, at the same time, he has made it clear that France will not tolerate political instability when French troops are putting their lives on the line fighting Islamic insurgencies on the continent. 

Macron’s blunt style is easily visible in Mali. The former French colony recently suffered its fifth coup since earning its independence in 1960 and the second since last summer. In the latest coup, Vice President and Army Colonel Assimi Goita arrested and forced the resignation of President Bah N’daw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, and Minister of Defense Souleymane Doucouré.

European Leaders Threaten to Pull Out of Mali

French Special Operation Forces in Africa
French SOF troops, part of SOF Task Force Takuba, are fighting Islamic insurgents in Mali.

Macron denounced the coup as “unacceptable” and warned other leaders in West Africa that France would not and could not support a country without “democratic legitimacy or transition.”

In response to the coup, West African leaders suspended Mali from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The African Union also suspended Mali and threatened economic sanctions if a civilian-led government is not restored.

ECOWAS called for the ruling military junta to name a new civilian prime minister to be nominated immediately, a new inclusive government to be formed, and the promised 18-month transition of power that will result in new elections in February 2022 to be carried out. It added that a monitoring mechanism will be put in place to assure the above. 

“Neither France nor its partners are committed to getting involved [in Mali] if the ECOWAS demands are not respected,” Macron said.

Macron has acknowledged that a solution to Mali’s troubles needs to be political, economic, and military.