France sees permanent force for Mali

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced a “permanent” military mission in Mali April 5. Fabius, on a visit to Bamako, the capital, said Paris is moving ahead with plans to reduce its 4,000-strong military force beginning next month, but will maintain a combat presence in Mali to support a future UN “peacekeeping” mission. “France has proposed, to the United Nations and to the Malian government, a French support force of 1,000 men, which would be permanent, based in Mali and equipped to fight terrorism,” Fabius said. (Reuters, April 5)

Fabius also said that the Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) must disarm and accept confinement. “When the time comes every group, the MNLA as much as any other armed group, will have to accept being confined [to cantonments] and giving up its arms,” Fabius told a press conference. He also reassured that France was not planning an “overnight” withdrawal. (France24, April 4)