The annual Bastille Day parade in Paris has been celebrated with troops from Mali and 12 other African countries marching with the French military down the Champs Elysées.
The Malian presence was in recognition of the joint effort with French forces to oust Islamist extremists who ha taken over the north of the country and were threatening the capital Bamako.
The parade included a unit from the new UN force, mostly composed of African troops, which began its mission in Mali this month.
The French President François Hollande was joined by Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traoré, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Ivo Josipovic, the President of Croatia which has just joined the European Union.
Afterwards in an interview for French television, the president reflected on the military action earlier this year.
“This was a victory. I was welcomed in Africa not for what I’d done, but for what I’d decided. Those who took action were the French soldiers. We defeated terrorism in Mali, we haven’t defeated it everywhere. We won’t wage war everywhere. We waged it there because we were called on by a friendly country, we were supported by Europe within the framework of international law,” Hollande said.
Despite the splendour of the occasion celebrating the start of the French revolution, this year’s event was a slimmed-down affair, with savings of up to 15 per cent compared to last year.
The military governor of Paris, General Hervé Charpentier, said at a news conference that “like all our citizens, we are taking care over our spending”.