BAMAKO - Mali's military government has ordered all non-governmental organizations, including aid groups, financed by France to stop activity in the country.
The government's official statement was read on state TV station ORTM Monday evening by presenter Ibrahim Traore and later posted on the station's Facebook page.
The statement says the decision was made after France's announcement of its suspension of development aid to Mali, which came last week and which France says is due to concerns about Mali working with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group.
France specified that it would maintain humanitarian aid despite suspending development aid.
Consequently, Traore says, the transitional government has decided to prohibit, with immediate effect, all activities carried out by NGOs operating in Mali with funding or with material or technical support from France, including in the humanitarian field.
The statement also claimed that France's suspension of aid is "intended to deceive and manipulate" public opinion "for the purpose of destabilizing and isolating Mali."
The statement goes on to refer to France's aid to Mali as "dehumanizing aid used as a means of blackmailing rulers and actively supporting terrorist groups operating on Malian soil."
The statement does not clarify or offer proof of the accusations.
Diplomatic relations between France and Mali have been increasingly tense this year since France supported sanctions by the west African country grouping ECOWAS against Mali over delayed elections.
The French ambassador was expelled in January and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal of French troops after almost ten years in February.
France has continually accused Mali of working with Russian mercenaries, which the Malian government has denied, claiming to only work with "Russian instructors."
Several cases of alleged human rights abuses by mercenaries working with the Malian army have been documented by human rights groups and journalists this year.
France supports a large number of NGOs working in the humanitarian sector in Mali, which provide services to vulnerable populations in the country.