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Malians Protest Visit of French Minister


Political parties and advocacy groups in Mali have announced they will march in the streets of the capital, Bamako, to protest the visit of French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy is due to arrive in Mali later Wednesday, hours after his controversial immigration bill was passed by France's National Assembly.

The immigration bill would make it more difficult for poor, uneducated and unskilled immigrants to settle in France and would give authorities the power to hand-pick who is allowed into the country.

The bill has raised a chorus of protest in former French African colonies. Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade has criticized the bill, saying it could drain African countries of their most educated people.

Sarkozy is visiting the west African countries of Mali and Benin during a two-day trip he says is aimed at discussing immigration and France's Africa policy.

Earlier this week, a group of some 20 Malian lawmakers called on Sarkozy to cancel his visit to their country, saying his visit is a provocation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.