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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

What next for François Hollande's camel?

You might well have seen the pictures over the weekend - delighted Malians welcoming their all-conquering hero, the French president François Hollande, during his visit to Timbuktu.

Unable to contain their joy they smiled, danced, sang and...made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

A camel.

(screenshot from news report)

"I will use it as a means of transportation as often as possible," quipped Hollande, appearing somewhat fazed by the gift and brandishing a whip he had also been given (for training purposes of course).

Mind you, it's remarkable microphones managed to pick up any of his response above the bellowing protests of the young animal lying in front of him, ready for its new "mission".

Twitter of course had a field day with the story. There were, unsurprisingly perhaps, more than a just few (unkind) references to France's first lady Valérie Trierweiler appearing among the responses along the lines of "Malians have offered Hollande a camel. Didn't anyone tell them he already has one at home?" and "François Hollande receives a camel as a present on his arrival in Mali. Won't Valérie be jealous?"

The mainstream media picked up on Hollande's quip, detailed how the animal had now been elevated to the status of "presidential camel" but nonetheless would have to go through the same procedure as any other animal being imported into France from Mali.

After all this would also be "un chameau normal pour un président normal" was the tone.

It would spend a couple of weeks in the zoo in the Malian capital Bamako, reported RTL radio, followed by a medical, a period of quarantine and vaccinations before being flown to France.

But now comes the news that could put the proverbial spanner in the works for a somewhat unusual presidential pet: the camel offered to Hollande was allegedly a stolen one.

A man, currently living in a refugee camp in Mali has come forward saying he was the original owner, the animal had been stolen from him and he wants it back.

No official word from the Elysée palace as to the fate of the camel...and no activity on Valérie Trierweiler's Twitter account to give us all the scoop.

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