Mali: Statement by President François Hollande
France – at the request of the President of Mali and in compliance with the Charter of the United Nations – has committed herself to supporting the Malian army in the face of the terrorist aggression threatening the whole of West Africa.
Thanks to the courage of our soldiers, it’s already been halted and heavy losses have been inflicted on our adversaries.
But our mission is not complete.
Let me remind you that it consists in preparing the deployment of an African intervention force to enable Mali to regain her territorial integrity, in line with the Security Council resolutions.
Today I’ve again given full instructions to ensure the resources used by France are strictly confined to this goal.
Moreover, I’ve taken steps to strengthen the French military operation in Bamako to protect our citizens.
I’d like to pay tribute to our armed forces. One of our pilots died in the first hours of the confrontation. I salute his memory.
Let me remind you that France has no special interest in this operation other than to protect a friendly country, and no goal other than to fight terrorism. That’s why her action is supported by the whole international community and welcomed by all the African countries.
On another front, Somalia, I took the decision several days ago for an action to be carried out to free one of our agents, who had been held for more than three and a half years in gruelling conditions. The operation was not successful, despite the sacrifice of two of our soldiers and most probably the hostage’s murder.
I share the families’ grief and offer them the nation’s condolences. But this operation confirms France’s determination not to give in to the terrorists’ blackmail.
In the coming days our country will continue its intervention in Mali. I said it would last as long as necessary, but I have every confidence in our forces’ effectiveness and in the success of the mission we are conducting on the international community’s behalf.
The fight against terrorism also requires us to take every necessary precaution here in France. So I’ve asked Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to step up the Vigipirate Plan (1) to place our public buildings and transport infrastructure under surveillance. He will ensure that these instructions are carried out as soon as possible.
Finally, I want to pay tribute to the political consensus which has formed around France’s engagement, which will be discussed in Parliament next week. In these circumstances, the rallying together of the French is an additional strength for the success of our action. Thank you./.
(1) Under the Vigipirate Plan, the security forces seek to avert threats and take preventive counter-terrorism measures.