Hollande visits Mali to a hero’s welcome

AFP-JIJI

President Francois Hollande received a rapturous welcome in Mali on Saturday as he promised that France would stay as long as necessary to continue the fight against Islamist rebels in the north.

As troops worked to secure Kidal, the last bastion of radicals who occupied the vast desert north for 10 months before the French Army’s surprise intervention, Hollande told Malians it is time for Africans to take the lead but France will not abandon them.

Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, thanked him for the French troops’ “efficiency,” which he said had allowed the north to be freed from “barbarity and obscurantism.”

Hollande and Traore toured Timbuktu’s 700-year-old mud mosque of Djingareyber and the Ahmed Baba library for ancient manuscripts.