“The situation created by the occupation of a territory in northern Mali by terrorist groups is intolerable, inadmissible and unacceptable, not only for Mali, who is directly affected by this terrorist evil, but for all the countries of the region and, beyond, for all those who may one day be the victims of terrorism. The authorities of Mali have just brought this matter before us. So there is no time to lose. France will support all initiatives that enable the Africans themselves to resolve this issue in accordance with international law, with a clear mandate from the Security Council. Yes, Mali must regain her territorial integrity and terrorism must be banished from the Sahel region.”
François Hollande, President of the French Republic,
Opening debate of the 67th session of the General Assembly to the United Nations, 25 September 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mali is dealing with terrorist elements from the north, whose brutality and fanaticism are now clear to the entire world.
The very existence of the friendly state of Mali is at stake, as is the security of its people and that of our citizens. There are 6,000 of them there.
I therefore responded, on behalf of France, to the request for assistance issued by Mali’s president, supported by the West African countries.
Consequently, the French armed forces lent their support this afternoon to the Malian units in order to fight against these terrorist elements.
This operation will continue as long as necessary.
I will keep the French people regularly informed of its progress. The ministries concerned – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the UN, since we are intervening within the framework of international law, and the Ministry of Defense – will also provide all the relevant information to the population.
Lastly, the matter will be put before Parliament on Monday.
The terrorists should know that France will always be there, not when its fundamental interests are involved, but when the rights of a population – the Malian people who want to live in a free and democratic country - are concerned.
Mali is faced with serious institutional and security challenges since the military seizure of power of 22 March 2012, a few days before the presidential elections. The mutineers arrested the principal members of the government.
Following the military seizure of power, the Malian army collapsed in the northern part of the country, where the Tuareg rebellion, with the support of islamist fighters linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), has managed important territorial gains, taking possession of the cities of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. The Islamist group Ansar Din joined forces with the MNLA during the fighting, conquering Timbuktu from which they expelled the MNLA, on 2 April 2012. AQMI is responsible for the kidnapping and the death of several French nationals in the region of Sahel over the last years.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) seeks independence of the three governorates of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu to create a new state, the "Republic of Azawad". It has unlilaterally declared the independence of Azawad on 6 April 2012, which France, alongside the international community, has considered null and void.
To force the mutineers to hand over power to the civilians authorities, the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) adopted on 2 April 2012 a set of economic, diplomatic and financial sanctions against the junta in Bamako, enforcing a total embargo on the country. On 7 April 2012, these sanctions were lifted following an agreement with the military junta negotiated by the regional organization, laying down a plan for the transition of power with the transfer of authority to the president of the national assembly.
At the beginning of January 2013, several combat units from terrorist groups moved towards the south, capturing the town of Konna and threatening the city of Mopti. Mali requested France’s military assistance to defend itself, which was began to be provided in support of the Malian security forces on January 11, 2013.
On 25 April 2013, the Security Council adopted resolution 2100 transforming the current African-led force in Mali (AFISMA) into a United Nations led stabilizing force, to be deployed on 1st July 2013. Resolution 2100 includes a civil strong mandate to ensure civil and human rights protection throughout the country. The French representative then spoke to the press about this resolution.
On 3 April 2013, Mr Jeffrey Feltman, Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, briefed the Security Council and the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, the options proposed by the Secretary-General to deploy a stabilization operation in Mali.
During the closed consultations that followed, the representative of France stressed the importance of the rapid implementation of a political process in the country, supported by the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General. He noted that the stabilization phase of the country should be engaged as soon as possible to preserve the achievements of the French military intervention. A UN stabilizing force seemed to be the best option, its deployment would occur by July and will be concomitant with the gradual reduction of the French contingent in the country.
The complete timeline of events here.
27 March 2013 - Mali - Remarks to the press by M. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United
27 February 2013 - Mali - Remarks to the press by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
6 February 2013 - Mali - Remarks to the press by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
14 January 2013 - Mali - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
More French statements here.
25 April 2013 - Security Council - Resolution 2100
10 January 2013 - Security Council press statement
20 December 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2085 authorizing the deployment of an African-led international Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA)
11 December 2012 - Mali - Security Council Press Statement
10 December 2012 - Peace and security in Sahel - Statement by the President of the Security Council
12 October 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2071 calling upon Malian rebel armed groups to cut off all ties to terrorist organizations or face international community sanctions
21 September 2012 - Security Council press statement on Mali and Sahel
5 July 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2056
9 April 2012 - Security Council press statement
4 April 2012 - Peace and security in Africa - Statement by the President of the Security Council
26 March 2012 - Peace and security in Africa - Statement by the President of the Security Council on the situation in the Sahel region
22 March 2012 - Security Council press statement