France’s parliament has voted to extend its four month military mission in Mali to drive back Islamist extremists.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared operation “Serval” had been a success but that pockets of resistance remained.
Instead of a speedy pull out there will be a gradual withdrawal of France’s 4,000 troops, to 2,000 this summer and one thousand by the end of the year.
The idea is eventually for a smaller number of army personnel to contribute to a UN peacekeeping force which will operate until Mali’s own army is brought up to strength.
However, in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde, a prominent French colonel has claimed that despite a European Union backed training mission, the Malian military remains poor and ill equipped and has received little of promised donor money.