Timbuktu welcomes president of France to Mali

Posted: February 3, 2013 at 2:05 a.m.

France’s president, Francois Hollande, paid a triumphant visit Saturday to the ancient city of Timbuktu, receiving a rapturous welcome from thousands of people who gathered in a dusty square next to a 14th-century mosque to dance, play drums and chant, “Vive la France!” The muezzin of the mosque, whose singing calls residents to pray five times a day, wore a scarf in the colors of the French flag around his neck, as he shouted, “Vive Hollande !” But even as thousands of people gathered outside the mud and wood mosque to greet Hollande, hailing him as the city’s, and their country’s, savior, questions remain about what, exactly, France has accomplished aside from chasing Islamic extremists from the cities and into their desert and mountain redoubts.

This story is only available from our archives.

Front Section, Pages 6 on 02/03/2013