According to AFP, France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, canceled a trip to Mali to meet with the country’s transitional leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, on Friday after the European country announced new measures to combat the Coronavirus.
On Monday, the French president was set to meet Malian strongman Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for the first time since he took office in June after leading the country’s second coup in less than a year.
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Macron was also scheduled to pay a Christmas visit to French troops stationed in the country to combat a jihadist insurgency.
“This decision was made to ensure consistency between national-level measures and the president’s international agenda, as well as to avoid exposing our troops” as France battles a fifth wave of the virus, according to the presidency.
The presidency, on the other hand, announced that a Christmas meal prepared by the President’s chef would be flown to French military personnel stationed in the Sahel.
It went on to say that even before the cancellation, organizing the meeting with the Goita had been difficult.
Macron had hoped to meet Goita alongside Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, and Chad’s leader, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, but Chad declined.
Chad and other neighboring countries are also combating jihadists.
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The visit was timed to coincide with a tense period in France-Mali relations.
As France begins to withdraw its troops from the African country, Paris is extremely concerned about the possibility of Russian mercenaries being deployed there.