Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Mali: Mali, France Suspend Issuing Visas As Diplomatic Face-Off Deepens

Harare — France and Mali stopped giving visas to each other’s citizens, as tensions between the two former allies have grown, Le Monde reports.

According to the French daily, the French embassy in the capital of Mali, Bamako, stopped issuing new visas after Paris added Mali to its list of “red zone” nations where its residents are strongly discouraged from traveling. In a travel advisory update, the French foreign ministry said “in the current context of strong regional tensions, all travel to Mali is strongly not advised. French citizens in Mali are urged to show the greatest vigilance.”

In “reciprocity,” the junta in Mali responded by halting the issuance of new visas to French citizens at its embassy in Paris, according to the Malian foreign ministry.

According to the French online visa service provider Capago, the French embassy’s “reorganisation” of services as a result of the higher security classification has rendered it “unable to issue visas until further notice.”

“In a context of strong regional tensions, Mali has been classified as a red zone by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. This modification leads to a reorganisation of the services of the French Embassy in Bamako, which will therefore no longer be able to issue visas until further notice. Therefore, we inform you that the visa center and the Capago call center are closed,” the statement reads.

Mali’s foreign ministry said that it had learned of the reclassification “with surprise” in a statement posted to social media.

Relations between France and Mali deteriorated following the military’s takeover of Bamako in 2020 and the removal of elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita reportedly due to his failures to quell a brutal insurgency.

In a phased pullout that finished in 2022, France started to withdraw its anti-militant troops as the conflict grew worse and the junta enlisted the help of Russian paramilitaries.