Malian president calls not to “bite the hand” tense France

French troops entered the country in 2013 and operate alongside a 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission Both sets of soldiers are deeply unpopular among Malians, who see them as incapable of providing adequate protection

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President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta called on Malians not to “bite the hand” of those who come to their aid, including France, in the face of expressions of hostility to the presence of foreign forces in the country at war .

In a message broadcast Saturday night, he also announced the official launch on December 14 of a national debate to identify solutions to the crisis not only security, but multiform, which the country has been plagued for years.

Officials and experts agree that there will be no way out of the Sahel conflict by force of arms alone and without political action, as jihadism and violence that have already left thousands of dead spread.

Thirteen French soldiers died Monday in the collision of their two helicopters during a night combat operation in southern Mali.

“Mali’s at war, our unity is at stake,” Keita said. The war is “killing our civilians and our soldiers, both Malians and foreigners, who are here to help us. We have no reason to bite the hand of those that reach out.”

The Malian president said he would pay homage Monday by France to these soldiers. “I bow to (their) memory,” he said, while voices continue to rise to demand the departure of French or foreign troops and to accuse them of being interested only in natural resources of Mali.

“We have no reason to boast of having reached out to those who needed it yesterday,” said Keita, referring to the engagement of Malian soldiers during World Wars or peacekeeping missions, “But we also have no reason to bite the hands of those who give us theirs today.”

It also set 14 December as the official launch of the inclusive national dialogue it launched in May and which has given rise to months of consultations. It is supposed to put the Malians around the table and establish a road map.

The Malian president has hinted that this launch would take the form of a congress and called “all the forces of the Nation” to take part in this dialogue, “entered the home stretch”.

The initiative has hitherto faced the non-participation of important actors, such as the main opposition group, the Front for the Safeguard of Democracy.

“We should seize the opportunity presented by the flattening and deep diagnosis,” said Keïta. The conclusions and resolutions resulting from this dialogue will be implemented by an independent mechanism, he assured.

AFP

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