Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio on Monday insisted that France’s policies in Africa have created poverty and caused migration.
Maio’s remarks came hours after France summoned the Italian ambassador to Paris to protest the original assertions made over the weekend.
Speaking on Saturday in central Italy, Di Maio attacked France’s Africa policy, the latest chapter in a war of words between Rome and Paris since the anti-establishment 5-Star-Movement and far-right League won power last year.
“If we have people who are leaving Africa now it’s because some European countries, and France in particular, have never stopped colonizing Africa,” said Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star.
“If France didn’t have its African colonies, because that’s what they should be called, it would be the 15th largest world economy. Instead it’s among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa.”
“France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states prevents their economic development and contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts,” he said.
Ambassador Teresa Castaldo was summoned on Monday afternoon by the chief of staff of European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, the French diplomatic source said.
FOLLOW US ON:
“It’s not the first time the Italian authorities have made unacceptable and aggressive comments,” the French diplomatic source added.
The new Italian government has frequently clashed with Paris, be it on immigration or policy in Libya, eager to mark the difference between itself and the previous center-left administration which had good ties with the French authorities.
“I’ve stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of immigration and it’s time to talk about the causes,” Di Maio said at the weekend.
“The EU should sanction all those countries like France that are impoverishing African countries and are causing those people to leave.”
TO DOWNLOAD OUR MOBILE NEWS APP CLICK HERE
Cameroon crisis: Ambazonia separatists get life sentences
A leader of Cameroon’s separatist movement, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, and nine of his followers have been given life sentences by a military court in the capital, Yaoundé.
They were convicted of rebellion, among other charges.
Their lawyers accused the judge of bias and withdrew from the proceedings.
The English-speaking separatists argue they are marginalised by the bureaucracy and school system in the majority French-speaking country.
The defendants had been arrested in Nigeria in January 2018 and deported back to Cameroon.
The court session on the verdicts, which started on Monday, went on until 05:30 (04:30 GMT) local time Tuesday morning, reports the BBC’s Leocadio Bongben.
By that time the defence lawyers had already withdrawn from the proceedings but continued to stay in the court as spectators.
Defence barrister Joseph Fru said there were irregularities in the proceedings, including the judge’s biases, but the military court rejected his evidence.
The long list of charges included rebellion, complicity in terrorism, financing terrorism, revolution, insurrection, hostility against the state, propagation of fake news and lack of identification.
The court also ordered the 10 to pay a fine of 250bn CFA francs ($422m; £359m) to the government for civil damages and 12bn CFA francs for court costs.
What’s happening in Cameroon?