France has no intention of keeping forces in Mali: Hollande

AFP , Tuesday 15 Jan 2013

French President Francois Hollande says his country has no intention to keep its forces in Mali but the troops will remain until security is restored and 'terrorists' eliminated

French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that his government does not intend to keep forces in Mali, but will remain until security is restored and "terrorists" eliminated.

"France has no intention of staying in Mali, but we have an objective, that is when we leave there should be security in Mali, a legitimate authority, an electoral process and no more terrorists threatening the integrity of the country," Hollande told reporters in Dubai.

Hollande said the intervention was aimed at ending attacks by Islamists, securing the capital and restoring the territorial integrity of the west African nation.

"We have three objectives for our intervention," he said -- "ending terrorists attacks," as well as "securing Bamako where we have thousands of citizens and helping Mali to restore its territorial integrity."

The French president said the United Arab Emirates, where he was on a scheduled state visit, backs the intervention and will provide "humanitarian aid, as well as material, financial and possibly military support."

French forces have, since Friday, been supporting an offensive by Malian government troops against Islamist rebels who have controlled the north of the desert country since April 2012.

The military intervention has driven Islamists fighters from their strongholds in the north but the rebels on Monday pushed farther into the government-held south, seizing the town of Diabaly, 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the capital.

Short link: