France’s President Francois Hollande (C) and France’s Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (L) stand as Mali’s interim president Dioncounda Traore (R) speaks to a crowd at Independence Plaza in Bamako, Mali February 2, 2013.(Reuters / Joe Penney)(3.9Mb)embed videoFrench president Francois Hollande has been given a baby camel by government of Mali as token of gratitude for the French military helping rid the north of the country of Islamist rebels. Hollande was also given a whip to master the animal. The President noted the symbolism of the gift and promised the French would continue to fight tyranny. “Terrorism has been pushed back, it has been chased away, but it has not been defeated yet,” stressing that France was not there to oppress the local population. “France will stay by your side as long as necessary, as long as it takes for Africans themselves… to replace us,” he told a large crowd in the capital, Bamako, at a monument commemorating Mali’s independence from France.In three weeks of field operations which started on January 11, French and Malian troops have recaptured most of the territory held by Islamist extremists who took over a number of key cities in the north of the country last year.