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Hollande arrives in Mali in hope for operation shift

02-02-2013 19:08 BJT

BAMAKO, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- French President Francois Hollande arrived in Marli on Saturday in hope for an early shift of anti- rebel operations to African troops.

Hollande described his visit to the former French colony as a mission to express "support, encouragement and pride" to "out soldiers."

He also hopes African troops will replace French soliders "as quickly as possible" after allied forces chased away rebels from major towns in northern Mali.

Hollande was met by Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore upon his arrival at the airport of the central town of Savare.

They are scheduled to hold talks on a later occasion. Hollande also plans to visit Timbuktu, which is listed as UNESCO heritage town.

France intervened on Jan. 11 to help the Malian army repel approaching rebels including Al-Qaida's North African branch AQIM. With more and more French and African troops sent in to battle the rebels vowing to impose Sharia law throughout Mali, the Malian army has quickly taken back the northern towns of Cao, Timbuktu and Kidal, the capitals of the three northern regions sharing the same names respectively.

The Malian government hopes to hold an early election to end the crisis unleashed by a military coup on March 22, 2012 and the occupation of northern Mali by rebels in April of the same year.


Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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