Hollande vows action on new Mali offensive
BAMAKO - Agence France-Presse
Fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali. The group says their fighters took Konna, northeast of the capital of Mopti. AP photoFrance will support Mali’s request for military assistance to help counter an offensive by militants but strictly within the framework of U.N. Security Council resolutions, President François Hollande said Jan. 11, a day after the Security Council called for foreign troops to be quickly sent to Mali.
Mali asked for French help Jan. 10 after residents of a northern town said militants, who control much of the northern two-thirds of the country, drove out the Malian army in a major setback to government forces.
“I have decided that France will respond, alongside our African partners, to the request from the Malian authorities. We will do it strictly within the framework of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Hollande said in a New Year speech to diplomats and journalists. “We are faced with a blatant aggression that is threatening Mali’s very existence. France cannot accept this,” Hollande said. “We will be ready to stop the terrorists’ offensive if it continues.” A U.N. resolution in December authorized the deployment of an African-led military force and agreed European states could help rebuild Mali’s army ahead of an operation later in 2013. The U.N. Security Council called for foreign troops to be quickly sent to Mali to contain a new offensive by militants.
Diplomats at the U.N. in New York said Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore had appealed for help to Paris and UN chief Ban Ki-moon. “It basically said: ‘help France’,” US ambassador Susan Rice told reporters in describing Traore’s letter.