French have not stopped colonising Africa, says de Maio
France has summoned Italy's ambassador to Paris after deputy prime minister Luigi di Maio accused the French of "impoverishing" West Africa by keeping it in a colonialist embrace.
But far from ending the spat, Italy's other deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini added fuel to the fire by claiming France had deliberately let the security crisis fester in Libya for national gain.
In the latest acrimony between the two neighbours, Mr Di Maio pointed the finger at the CFA, the West African franc, which several countries still use and which he dubbed "the franc of the colonies".
As a result of being downtrodden, Africans are trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe and dying in the attempt, said the head of the populist Five Star movement.
"If we have people who are leaving Africa, it's because certain European countries, France in particular, have never stopped colonising Africa," he claimed.
Speaking on Italian radio, he said French President Emmanuel Macron "first lectures us [on migrants], then continues to finance public debt with the money with which he exploits Africa". The deputy premier suggested Brussels impose sanctions on Paris and take the matter to the UN. "In order to keep the Africans in Africa, it would be enough for the French to stay home," he concluded.
The broadside triggered a furious response from France, whose foreign ministry summoned Teresa Castaldo, Italian ambassador to Paris.
French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau's office called the remarks "unacceptable", but "must be read in a context of Italian internal politics". (© Daily Telegraph, London)