French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is summoned by the Malian courts as part of an investigation into a “damage to public property and other offences”learned this Wednesday 11 AFP from a court in Bamako, in a context of very tense relations between Paris and Bamako.
“The investigating judge of the second cabinet at the tribunal de grande instance of commune III of the district of Bamako (economic and financial pole) invites Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian to appear at his cabinet on Monday, June 20, 2022 for a matter concerning him. »specifies the summons, which was authenticated to AFP by the Malian justice.
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A Malian judicial source told AFP that this investigation followed a complaint from a platform of several Malian civil society associations, called “Maliko” (“The cause of Mali”). “It’s a story of the awarding of a contract for the manufacture of Malian passports to a French company (to which) Le Drian’s son would be linked”added this judicial source.
According to an official document consulted by AFP, the case dates from 2015, when Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was president of Mali.
No complaints filed
At that time, a French company – Oberthur Technologie – obtained the market for the manufacture of Malian biometric passports for ten years.
“Le Drian was Minister of Defense at the time. Did he support the case to defend a French company or its interests? This is basically what Malian justice seeks to understand. We are at the investigation stage now.”another Malian judicial source told AFP.
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For its part, the Maliko association (close to the junta currently in power in Mali), which filed a complaint and joined as a civil party, made a document available to AFP. “The procedures and rules established by Malian legislation, in particular Decree No. 2015 – 06040 of September 25 on the public procurement code, were blithely violated when the aforementioned contract was awarded”says the document that accompanies the complaint.
Asked by AFP, a diplomatic source in Bamako said on Wednesday “that to date, no complaint has reached the French Embassy in Bamako”.
Relationships that keep deteriorating
Commenting on the case, a Malian magistrate for her part told AFP that “this summons” of the French minister as it stands has “no legal basis”.
Mali has been the scene since 2012 of operations by jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization, as well as violence of all kinds perpetrated by self-proclaimed self-defense militias and bandits.
“The resurgence of abuses in central Mali coincides with the arrival of Russian paramilitaries”
This violence, which started in the north in 2012, spread to the center, then to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. They caused thousands of civilian and military deaths as well as hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, despite the deployment of UN, French and African forces.
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Relations between Bamako and Paris have continued to deteriorate in recent months, particularly since the arrival in Mali of paramilitaries from the Russian group Wagner.
The Malian authorities – dominated by the military who came to power by force in August 2020 – announced in early May that they were ending the 2014 cooperation treaty with France, as well as the 2013 and 2020 agreements setting the legal framework for the presence of Barkhane and the regrouping of European special forces Takuba, initiated by France.