France will recall its ambassador to Mali in reaction to the West African country’s decision to expel him, the Foreign Ministry said Monday. 

France is in solidarity with its European partners, particularly Denmark, whose troops were expelled from Mali on the basis of “unfounded pretexts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Mali has given the French ambassador 72 hours to leave after “hostile” remarks by French authorities about its transitional government.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had said Mali’s military government was “out of control” and illegitimate.

Relations between former colonial power France and Mali have deteriorated since the Malian army seized power in August 2020.

Ties deteriorated further as the military government went back on an agreement to hold elections in February and proposed holding on to power until 2025.

Last week, Mali asked Denmark to withdraw its troops, a move opposed by France.

The Takuba force from 14 European countries is tasked with providing special forces as well as logistical and tactical support working alongside regional troops for targeted operations against an insurgency.

*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk

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