France says will help Mali fight off rebels

The French president says his country will help the Malian government fight against rebels following reports of the deployment of foreign troops and arms near a militant stronghold in the African country.

“They (rebels) are trying to deliver a fatal blow to the very existence of this country (Mali). We will be ready to stop the … offensive…. We will do it strictly within the framework of the United Nations Security Council resolution,” said President Francois Hollande on Friday.

Hollande’s remarks immediately followed reports that foreign troops and weapons had been flown into an army base near the central town of Konna. Rebel fighters took control of the city on Thursday.

In December 2012, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of foreign military forces in Mali to help the Malian government battle the militants controlling the northern part of the West African country.

The 15-member Security Council authorized an initial one-year deployment of African Union forces in the country.

The resolution, drafted by France, also authorized all European Union member states to help rebuild Mali’s security forces.

Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the two-month Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.

However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists pushed them aside and wrested control of all the northern desert regions.

MAM/HMV