The UN troops will take over from the 1st of July. Most of the African Force already deployed will be incorporated into the peacekeeping presence. France will keep a position in the country to help combat Islamic fighters. A short time ago, our diplomatic editor James Bays spoke to the French Ambassador to the UN.
We need to enter into a phase of reconciliation between the Malians, and the UN are the only one able to be a channel between all parts of the Malian society.
Q: You talk about reconciliation, but people on the ground say the atmosphere there, even among government officials and some of the army, want revenge and retribution. How worried are you about the situation?
Very worried, you are perfectly right. There is a spirit of revenge in Bamako, that you can understand after what happened. But this spirit of revenge will lead nowhere or to a new bout of fighting. They have had problems for the last fifty years. That is why it is important to have the UN on the ground, with the African Union, to push for the reconciliation, to push for having real political process.
Q: I have read the resolution and there is a clear timeline for when this UN Force starts, on the 1st of July, and it will be backed by your French troops in case there is any trouble. What is not clear on the timeline is how long your French troops are staying in Mali: when are the last French troops going to leave?
I am going to give you a very clear answer: we will stay as long as necessary and we will leave as quickly as possible. We will have a very pragmatic view of our presence.
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