French President Francois Hollande has demanded that nationwide elections be held in July in the former colony of Mali, where a French-led war is raging.
“These elections must take place throughout the Malian territory, I insist throughout the Malian territory. No fraction of Mali must be deprived of the possibility of organizing the election,” Hollande said on Friday.
He made the remarks during a press conference after a meeting with his Nigerian counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou is Paris, where they discussed bilateral cooperation and the situation in Mali.
“We must make sure that Malian civil administration can be put in place everywhere for the organization of these elections. And France, through its military presence and other armies, will contribute to this,” he said.
The French president also said that his country’s military operation in its former colony has been successful and Paris can proceed to aid the political process there.
“In the fight against terrorism, politics is also a weapon,” Hollande said.
France launched a war in the resource-rich West African country in January under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda-linked extremists.
The French-led war on Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.
France began to withdraw some of its 4,000 troops in April. However, France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed in April that the country would keep 1,000 troops in Mali even after the arrival of more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers later this year.
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