France trains Ivory Coast troops for deployment in Mali

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France’s peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast on Saturday began training an Ivorian battalion for deployment in Mali as part of a pan-African force. FRANCE 24 followed the joint exercise in the hills north of Abidjan.


France and Ivory Coast began holding joint military exercises on Saturday north of Abidjan, to prepare a battalion of 235 Ivorian soldiers for deployment in Mali.

The training, organised by France’s peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast, focused on logistics and supplies, but took the form of an imaginary attack by jihadists, with soldiers going into combat formation.

The Ivorian battalion is set to be sent to Mali late April, as part of the West African force working alongside France to rid Mali of Islamist fighters who took the country’s north.

France launched a military operation on January 11, after being asked to intervene by the country's interim president. French and Malian soldiers have succeeded in liberating the three main towns in the north, but the fighting continues.

France, which currently has 4,000 troops in Mali, is eager to withdraw and transfer responsibility to a pan-African force, which would then give way to a UN peacekeeping mission.

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