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Mali's interim leader Ndaw, Macron meet in Paris

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LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors

Mali

Mali's interim President Bah Ndaw arrived at the Elysee palace for a meeting with with his French host Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday.

It was not clear what the two leaders were meeting to discuss. The French presidency website only mentioned that Macron would have lunch with Ndaw.

Paris has indicated it is planning to withdraw counterinsurgency troops from Sahel, something that's made authorities in Bamako jittery.

France has over 5,000 troops stationed in the Sahel to support countries in the region in their fight against militants.

Public opinion in Mali has grown increasinglz critical of French presence in the country. Attacks by militant insurgents have increased in frequency and severity even with French troops deployed across the Sahel.

Macron is also expected to press Ndaw about Mali's transition to civilian rule. The army has been accused by activists of cementing control and of frustrating a return to democratic rule.

While constituting the National Transitional Council, Mali's interim national assembly - the army allocated itself the lion's share of the seats, to the disappointment of political parties and the civil society.

Under international pressure, Mali's military junta named Ndaw, a former defence minister as president of the country’s new transition government last September.

Army officials were rushing to escape regional and international sanctions following the coup in August against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's government.

Ndaw's 18-month mandate is supposed to end with the conduct of elections and a return to civilian rule.

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