The government of Mali has declared a ban on aid organizations funded by France. This is Mali’s coup leader’s effort to isolate the West African nation from its erstwhile colonizer and ally in the struggle against Islamic extremism.
In a statement that was broadcast late Monday on national television, the administration declared the decision to be immediate and would not only be applicable to French non-governmental organizations but also those receiving “material or technical support from France.”
The action instantly caused worry for thousands of Malians who are receiving help.
Sekou Ahmed Diallo, a member of a Malian collective of non-governmental organizations, said members would soon propose “a diplomatic solution” to the government.
“I think that France has not been totally correct in its positions in Mali, but we must not take extremist positions, because there are areas where the state is absent and only NGOs are coming to support vulnerable populations,” Diallo told The Associated Press.
Only a few days earlier, the French government had stated that it was suspending aid to Mali. However, France still intended to deliver humanitarian supplies via NGOS up until the statement on Monday.
The French foreign ministry said in a written statement that Paris regrets the decision “that unfortunately is to the detriment of the Malian population.” Since 2013, France had been providing a total of 100 million euros each year in assistance.
Mali’s coup leader Col. Assimi Goita has faced mounting international isolation after he seized power two years ago and then failed to meet an international deadline for organizing a new democratic election.
The U.K. recently announced it would be withdrawing its 300 peacekeepers from Mali, saying the country’s growing reliance on Russian mercenaries is undermining stability.
Earlier this year, France, a former colonial power, completed withdrawing its troops from Mali after nine years of combating Islamic extremism there.