France to keep 2000 troops in Mali until year end

imgFrance will maintain around 2 000 troops in Mali to help secure the December legislative polls before further scaling down its military presence, the defence minister said  .

“We’re going keep a little more than 2 000 men until the end of the year,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

The former colonial power deployed its airforce and sent combat units in January this year to help Mali’s government wrest back the north of the country from Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda.

It currently has 3 000 troops left on the ground and aims to scale back its presence to only 1 000 by the end of January 2014.

Mali’s first parliamentary polls since a coup in March last year are due to begin on 24 November and a second round is scheduled for 15 December. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was sworn in as president last month after an August election.

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