African troops join Bastille parade

PARIS — Troops from 13 African countries that took part in the French-led war against Al Qaeda-linked extremists in Mali marched with the French military during the Bastille Day parade in Paris on Sunday to honor their role in the conflict.

UN troops in blue berets who are helping to stabilize the west African nation of Mali also paraded with thousands of other soldiers down the Champs-Elysees Avenue in France’s annual tribute to military might. It marks the storming of the Bastille prison July 14, 1789, by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution.

Despite the triumphal display, which included tanks, trucks with missile defense systems, and flyovers by fighter jets, the realities in Mali suggest that President Francois Hollande’s military intervention has had mixed results.


The mission he launched in January helped the Malian government retake control of much of the country from extremists who had seized northern Mali and threatened the capital. The nation is to hold elections July 28, but tensions involving rebel Tuaregs in the north linger, along with political instability.

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Sunday’s events, however, focused on the positive.

‘‘It was a victory for Africa, a victory against terrorism, and pride that we must have,’’ Hollande said in an interview after the parade with television stations in the garden of the presidential Elysee Palace.

Hollande oversaw the display of military might with Mali interim President Dioncounda Traore and UN chief Ban Ki-moon at his sides.

Associated Press