Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users show solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Read more

  • Deadly shelling strikes Gaza UN school

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • Scores trapped as landslide hits Indian village

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    Read more

  • US and EU slap Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Europe launches last resupply ship to space station

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    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

COMMENT(S)