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Hollande in Mali: French troops will not stay

Hollande in Mali: French troops will not stay
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The French president was greeted by jubilant crowds for a second time in Mali, when he arrived in the capital Bamako.

Francois Hollande was visiting the country where French troops have deployed to drive out Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda.

His forces have been fighting for three weeks alongside Mali’s army.

In Bamako, Hollande said: “France has no intention of remaining here in Mali because it is Malians themselves, Africans, who will achieve security, independence and sovereignty in Mali. This is how I see Franco-African relations: respectful, democratic and transparent.”

Mali’s interim president touched on allegations of atrocities carried out by the country’s troops.

Dioncounda Traoré said: “In the euphoria of newfound liberty, do not give in to excess, false generalisations and the reflex of revenge.”

Earlier, residents in Timbuktu unleashed a similarly enthusiastic welcome on Francois Hollande after French troops led the liberation of the remote city in the desert.

After months of occupation by radicals, who enforced a strict interpretation of Islam, they showed off their brightly coloured clothes and jewellery.

There are 3,500 French personnel deployed in Mali – 800 moved on Timbuktu, including airborne troops who parachuted onto nearby dunes.

Hollande also saw ancient texts at the city’s library that had survived a fire set by Islamists as they were routed.