Sunday, 26 May 2013

France will keep troops in Mali beyond 2014: Defense minister

France has planned to keep a military presence in Mali beyond 2014, the country’s defense minister has announced.
“Today, there are 3,700 French soldiers in Mali. We said, and the French president repeated it yesterday (Friday) that we will maintain our soldiers in Mali even after the end of this year,” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Saturday.

“It will be a limited number (of soldiers) because United Nations force will be installed, after the 1st of July, the force that we are calling MINUSMA. But France will stay in Mali with 1,000 soldiers and with the capacity to support (actions) in N'djamena, Niamey and Ouagadougou," Le Drian added.

This came days after Le Drian said in London that France would keep 1,000 troops in the West African country for an "undetermined period."

Meanwhile, French media have reported that France will purchase two medium-altitude Reaper drones from the United States, for use in Mali.

France launched a war in its former colony on January 11, 2013 under the pretext of halting the advance of rebel fighters in the country.

The French-led war in Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.

On February 1, Amnesty International said “serious human rights breaches” -- including the killing of children -- were occurring in the French war in Mali.

Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war.