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Mali Slams UN, France

FILE: Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, now Mali PM. Taken 2.18.2022

Mali's military-appointed prime minister on Saturday lashed out at France as well as the United Nations in a grievance-filled address over his nation's deteriorating security.

Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, named last month by coup leaders as Mali's interim prime minister, used his UN General Assembly address to accuse France of having "stabbed in the back" the West African nation with its withdrawal of troops.

He said French leaders "have disowned universal moral values and betrayed the rich history of the Lumieres philosophers and turned themselves into a junta in the service of obscurantism."

Maiga denounced the former colonial power for "neocolonialist, condescending, paternalist and vengeful policies" such as sanctions on the junta in Mali, which has seen two coups since 2020.

The new PM saluted "the exemplary and fruitful cooperation between Mali and Russia," whose Wagner Group security firm has been hired by the junta in Bamako despite widespread concerns in the West over the Russian-allied mercenary army's record of alleged atrocities and human rights violations.

Maiga also denounced UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who in a recent interview rejected the junta's claims that 46 Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali were mercenaries.

Ivory Coast said that the soldiers, detained at the Bamako airport, were sent to provide backup to the UN peacekeeping force MINUSMA, one of the international body's largest and most dangerous missions.

"Mr. Secretary-General, Mali shall exert all legal consequences over your actions," Maiga said, before repeating his call for reform of MINUSMA.

Maiga also attacked the leaders of several West African nations that have put pressure on the junta.

He charged that Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum was not actually from Niger and accused Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara of "keeping power only for himself and his clan" by changing the constitution to have a third term.

The military in 2020 threw out Mali's elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, amid frustration over the failure to stop a jihadist insurgency.

France in August withdrew its last troops from Mali after a nine-year deployment, seeing little progress against the jihadists and sour relations with the junta.

Mali's open spaces have been fertile ground for a wide range of insurgents, including AQIM and other Islamic terrorists. So far, the hired Wagner Group has not been successful in crushing Islamist elements.