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Mali authorities ban anti-France protest, use tear gas to disperse protesters

  • 2021-01-21 07:33:07
  • News

Malian security forces used tear gas to disperse a banned protest in the capital Bamako against France's military presence in the country, one of the rally's organisers is quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Police were deployed in riot gear to block around 1,000 protesters from gathering in Bamako's Independence Square, organiser Adama Diarra is quoted by Reuters as saying.

"We demand the departure of French forces. After eight years of intervention it's been a total failure," he told the news agency.

Mali's authorities had banned the protest because of the restrictions to slow down the spread of Covid-19, Bamako governor's chief of staff Daniel Dembélé said.

France, Mali's former colonial power, has 5,100 troops in the Sahel region which has been a front line in the war against Islamist militancy for almost a decade.

But France's military presence in Mali regularly provokes expressions of animosity which have come out on social media and during several demonstrations in Bamako.

Several leaders of the demonstration are members of the National Transitional Council, the legislative body of the transitional period following the military coup of 18 August 2020 and supposed to bring back elected civilians to power after 18 months.

The transition remains dominated by the military, which affirms its commitment to military co-operation with France.