France recalls Mali ambassador Rouyer: Diplomatic source

BAMAKO (AFP) - France has recalled its ambassador to Mali after he reportedly fell out with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a diplomatic source in the west African nation said on Thursday.

Christian Rouyer, an outspoken advocate for the French military intervention to drive Islamist militants from northern Mali, had been in the role since 2011 but was said to be in disagreement with Fabius.

"We have just learned that the French ambassador in Bamako was recalled by his country before the end of his mission," the source said.

A Malian official at the embassy confirmed the information, saying on condition of anonymity that staff were told officially on Thursday morning.

"I learned that he had problems with his foreign minister," he said.

The French foreign ministry in Paris declined comment.

A Malian diplomat would not comment on the departure but said: "I can tell you that Mali did not request the ambassador's departure and he will remain a friend of Mali."

Rouyer, 63, was popular with the Malian authorities and among political circles and civil society.

He repeatedly drew attention during the rule of president Amadou Toumani Toure, overthrown by a coup in March last year, to the danger of the situation in northern Mali, before Islamists seized control of the region in June and July last year.

Rouyer was a well-known supporter of the French military intervention launched in January to stop the spread of the jihadists to the south.

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