Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Virunga Park chief shot

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algerian election: Bouteflika votes in wheelchair

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algeria's media: a mixture of censorship and free speech

Read more

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair

Read more

WEB NEWS

Nigerian web users call for end to violence

Read more

FOCUS

Bitcoin in the US: A monetary revolution?

Read more

ENCORE!

Fast cars and slow trains

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

  • Nobel-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    Read more

  • Low turnout in Algerian election tipped to return Bouteflika

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Hundreds still trapped in sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Deadly attack on civilians sheltering in UN base in South Sudan

    Read more

  • Eurostar train delay "chaos"

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

France

Hollande says no French troops in Mali offensive

©

Video by Ben Barnier

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-10-12

President François Hollande said French soldiers would not join any future combat operations against Islamic militants in northern Mali in an exclusive interview given on the eve of his first African tour as France’s head of state.

Watch the full interview here.

President François Hollande said on Thursday that he would not commit French combat troops to future military operations against Islamic militants in northern Mali, but would help with logistical support and training, a day before he embarked on his first official tour of Africa.

“We can’t intervene in the place of Africans, but we can offer logistical help, we can train, but France will not intervene” Hollande told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

He said that it was up to the Malian government, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the African Union to organise and man a military response to Mali’s Islamist rebels.

Armed Tuareg groups and Islamist militants allied to al Qaeda overran Mali’s north in April 2012, proclaiming the region’s independence and imposing sharia law.

Hollande said on Thursday that no negotiations were possible with those rebels. “Negotiate with whom? (…) With terrorists who impose sharia, cut off people’s hands and destroy monuments that were until now considered world heritage sites?” the president asked, referring to the destruction of centuries-old Malian mausoleums by religious extremists since the upheaval.

"No French troops on the ground in Mali"

The French president added that allowing Muslim extremists free reign in northern Mali and the Sahel region could turn the territory into a training ground for terrorists and represent a threat to France and other countries’ internal security.

“We must cut off that road to terrorists,” Hollande said, adding that European funding to combating food and health shortages in the Sahel were also important initiatives to combat terrorism.

Meeting opposition in DRC

Hollande said he wanted to “write a new chapter” in Franco-African relations a day before a trip that will see him deliver a key speech to Senegalese lawmakers in the capital of Dakar on Friday, and later hold meetings with both Congolese President Joseph Kabila and DR Congo’s historic opposition leader.

Hollande said that a gathering with Etienne Tshisekedi – who lost a contested presidential poll against Kabila in November 2011 – was meant to “send a message to all African leaders” about respecting opposition groups and democratic institutions.

Nevertheless, the French president said he was not travelling to Senegal and DR Congo to dictate policy to his African counterparts.

Earlier this week Hollande turned heads when he described the political and human rights situation in DR Congo as "unacceptable". The remark earned him a sharp rebuke from Kinshasa, which said it was up to the Congolese – not Hollande – to decide what was acceptable.

"We need to be vigilant of terrorists in France"

He seemed eager to ease tensions on the eve of his tour. “I am not going [to Africa] to play the role of a referee or a judge,” he noted. “That is not what is being asked of France and it is not what France wants.”

Hollande also sought to break with his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who infamously said in 2007, “the African man has never fully entered into history”, saying:

“Times have changed. Today France is willing to both meet other leaders but also tell them the truth. This truth is not a French truth; it is about universal rights, basic freedoms and democracy.

Defending French interests

Hollande said that on his trip he would address France’s historical “mistakes” – including colonialism and slavery – but that he wanted to focus on the future of Africa and, in particular, economic opportunities.

He recognised that, unlike Europe, African economies were currently growing in leaps and bounds.

“It is the continent of the future… and countries are investing there, including China and the United States (…) I am going to tell Africans ‘We want to be part of your grand adventure’,” the president said, adding that 20% of all foreign businesses operating in Africa were already French.

He said he was ready to defend France’s economic interests in Africa, and push for them to be transparent. “Yes, there are economic interests, but are not going to dictate diplomacy based on economic interests,” he said.

Date created : 2012-10-11

  • FRANCE - BELGIUM

    France's richest man sends tax warning to Hollande

    Read more

  • IVORY COAST

    Hollande urges Ivory Coast’s Ouattara to seek reconciliation

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)