That ungrateful family ate my camel! French president to get ‘better looking’ new animal after thank-you gift from Mali was eaten by hosts in Timbuktu
Malian authorities will give French President Francois Hollande another camel after the one they gave him as a present was eaten.
The animal had been given in thanks for helping repel Islamist rebels was killed and eaten by the family he left it with in Timbuktu, an official in Mali said.
A local government official in northern Mali said today that a replacement would be sent to France.
“As soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
“The new camel will be sent to Paris. We are ashamed of what happened to the camel. It was a present that did not deserve this fate.”
Hollande was presented with the camel when he visited Mali in February several weeks after dispatching French troops to the former colony to help combat al Qaeda-linked fighters moving south from a base in the north of the country.
The president joked at the time about using the camel to get around traffic-jammed Paris. But he chose in the end to leave it with a family in the town on the edge of the Sahara desert.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was tasked with giving Hollande regular updates on the camel’s status and had to inform him of its death last week, French media said.
“The news came in from soldiers on the ground,” said a French government official.
The present has been an ongoing farce for the French leader.
It was claimed that the camel, who had not been named, had actually belonged to a farmer, whose house was destroyed by French shelling during their attack on Timbuktu.
The ‘true owner’ of the camel, who lives in the Ambra refugee camp on the border with Mauritania, said that his animal had been stolen.
This meant that the animal could have stolen property, and Mr Hollande and his entourage had no legal right to take it out of the country.
A furious Malian calling himself Said Toureg has now threatened to file a lawsuit, saying on Twitter: ‘Paris will witness unprecedented judicial activities regarding the stolen camel… there are reports stating that the owner of the camel has filed a lawsuit in the Ambra camp.’
A diplomatic Mr Hollande said he was prepared to respect the request from Mali, with France’s BFM TV news channel reporting: ‘It was decided to resend the camel back to his native country Mali because of the difficulty of surviving in France’s cold weather.’
French leaders have received many gifts of exotic or wild animals from Africa and further afield over the years.
Last week, a robber chainsawed a tusk off the skeleton of an elephant offered to Louis XIV by a Portuguese king in 1668. Police caught the robber as he fled, tusk under his arm.