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Article published the Sunday 03 February 2013 - Latest update : Monday 04 February 2013

Slideshow: Mali welcomes Hollande in Timbuktu and Bamako

France's President François Hollande greets people in the center of Timbuktu, 2 February, 2013
Reuters/Benoit Tessier

By RFI

France will stay in Mali as long as necessary, President François Hollande told an enthusiastic crowd in Bamako after visiting the northern city of Timbuktu Saturday. French warplanes bombed supposed Islamist positions near Kidal in the far north on Sunday, following Hollande's hero's welcome, illustrated in our slideshow below.

A Malian man painted in the colours of the French flag and with the words reading: "Welcome the savior Francois Hollande"
A Malian man painted in the colours of the French flag and with the words reading: "Welcome the savior Francois Hollande"
Reuters/Joe Penney
Malians cheering François Hollande at Independence Plaza in Bamako
Malians cheering François Hollande at Independence Plaza in Bamako
Reuters/Joe Penney
Francois Hollande greets a cheering crowd at Independence Plaza in Bamako on 2 February, 2013
Francois Hollande greets a cheering crowd at Independence Plaza in Bamako on 2 February, 2013
Reuters/Joe Penney
A Malian man waves a Mali flag
A Malian man waves a Mali flag
Reuters/Joe Penney
Malians cheer while  Francois Hollande speaks at Independence Plaza in Bamako
Malians cheer while Francois Hollande speaks at Independence Plaza in Bamako
Reuters/Joe Penney
Francois Hollande and Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore arrive at the airport of Timbuktu
Francois Hollande and Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore arrive at the airport of Timbuktu
Reuters/Fred Dufour
François Hollande et le président malien par intérim Dioncounda Traoré, le 2 février 2013 à Bamako.
Reuters/Joe Penney
Francois Hollande speaks to a crowd at the Independence Plaza in Bamako, 2 February 2013
Francois Hollande speaks to a crowd at the Independence Plaza in Bamako, 2 February 2013
Reuters/Joe Penney
President François Hollande, Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius and Unesco Irina Bokova visit the archives where documents were burnt in Timbuktu
Reuters/Fred Dufour
Francois Hollande and Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore visit the Djingareyber Mosque in Timbuktu
Francois Hollande and Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore visit the Djingareyber Mosque in Timbuktu
Reuters/Fred Dufour

    "Terrorism has been pushed back, it has been chased away, but it has not been defeated yet," Hollande told the Bamako crowd at a monument commemorating Mali's independence from France.

    "France will stay by your side as long as necessary, as long as it takes for Africans themselves [...] to replace us," he said.

    Dossier: War in Mali

    Earlier he had received a warm welcome in Timbuktu, although reports of reprisals against the Arab and Tuareg population have begun to mar the anti-Islamist offensive's image.

    US Vice-President Joe Biden congratulated France on its intervention ahead of a visit to Paris Sunday and Monday.

    And at the same international security conference that Biden was attending, Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Ehud Barak declared the operation "a very good example for the world".

    tags: Bamako - Dioncounda Traore - France - France and the world - François Hollande - Mali - Slideshow - Timbuktu - War
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