This is a new stage in the already very tense relations with Paris, since Bamako declared at the beginning of May to end the 2014 cooperation treaty with Paris, and the agreements setting the legal framework for the presence of the jihadist force Barkhane. On Wednesday May 11, the Malian justice announced that it was summoning the head of French diplomacy, Jean-Yves Le Drian. “The investigating judge of the second cabinet at the tribunal de grande instance of commune III of the district of Bamako (economic and financial pole) invites Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian to appear at his cabinet on Monday, June 20, 2022 for a matter concerning him. »,specifies the convocation document dated April 20, 2022. Such a convocation must in principle be sent by “diplomatic channel”according to people familiar with the matter, but a source at the French Embassy in Mali assures that as of this Thursday, May 12, no notification had been sent to them by the Malian courts.
The minister accused of lobbying for a Breton company
This investigation follows the complaint filed on February 22, 2022 by the Maliko movement (the cause of Mali), a civil society organization, which accuses the head of French diplomacy of “complicity in illegal taking and favoritism” in the awarding of the market for the manufacture of Malian biometric passports. “For some time, the French authorities have been attacking Mali and the conductor of all this is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It turned out that his real motivations are only to preserve his personal interests, in particular the Malian passport market. That’s why we filed a complaint against him.” says Boubacar Paitao, spokesperson for Maliko.
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The production of Malian passports was managed by a Canadian company. But when the contract expired in 2014, the Malian government did not wish to renew it. The market was awarded in 2015 to the French company Oberthur (now Idemia) without a call for tenders, says the spokesperson for Maliko. In a large survey of Young Africa published in 2021, several actors and witnesses told the weekly that Jean-Yves Le Drian, then Minister of Defense, had carried out intense lobbying with Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, then President of Mali, so that the Breton company be chosen. What the former mayor of Lorient has always denied.
The hypothesis of a complaint in France
Considered as yet another episode in the quarrel between Paris and Bamako, this complaint against Jean-Yves Le Drian raises many questions. Can the Malian justice issue a summons to a minister from another country in office, in addition to foreign affairs? Without really answering this question, Mahamadou Konaté, lawyer and general manager of the Conseils Donko firm, believes that the summons has little chance of succeeding. Jean-Yves Le Drian “may seize lawyers and who may request the cancellation of this summons by demonstrating that what he is accused of is linked to the exercise of his function and that in this area he enjoys absolute immunity. If this proves to be the summons will not go far”. But, according to The Sunday newspaper of April 24, Jean-Yves Le Drian could leave the government as part of the reshuffle which would be scheduled for the week of May 16.
” At the moment, explains the legal expert, he can decide to respond to Mali’s summons on his own initiative or decide not to do so on the pretext of not having confidence in the justice of the country. » The second hypothesis is the most probable. And, according to Maliko, the Malian justice could then decide to issue an international arrest warrant against him. “In this context, if he travels to another country in a private capacity, this country can decide to arrest him and extradite him to Mali”, explains Mahamadou Konaté. An analyst (who requested anonymity) brushes aside this possibility. According to him, no country will want to attract the hostility of France, given the context between Mali and France. What, then, of a complaint in France itself? The Maliko movement claims to have lawyers on the spot, but this has not yet come to fruition.