BAMAKO, June 6 (ChinaMil) -- "Chinese peacekeepers are not only a force of peace, they are also a force of development. Chinese peacekeepers have won the hearts of the Malian people," said Mali's former Prime Minister Moussa Mara in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the evening of June 4, 2016.
The camp of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in Gao, northern Mali, came under a terrorist attack on May 31, which killed one Chinese peacekeeper and injured five others. The news deeply saddened and shocked the world.
In Mara’s eyes, China is a great country, a good friend of Mali and a country that helps Mali the most. "China not only provides military and defense assistance to Mali, it also extends help to the hearts of Malians. Chinese peacekeepers play a vital role in it," Mara said.
Mara said he deeply regretted the casualties suffered by the Chinese peacekeepers and offered his condolences to the Chinese peacekeeper who was killed, wishing the injured speedy recovery.
Mara visited Gao in May 2014 when he was prime minister and he met Chinese peacekeepers in person. According to Mara, what impressed him the most were the strict discipline of the Chinese peacekeepers, and their contributions in various areas such as logistics, engineering, health services as well as urban construction in Mali.
"Chinese peacekeepers are not only a force of peace, they are also a force of development. They understand that maintaining peace not only means weaponry and sending troops, but also means improving the livelihoods of locals and winning their hearts. I admire Chinese peacekeepers a lot," Mara said.
He said that Chinese troops have established mutual trust and cooperation with the locals." The people in Gao quickly learned that Chinese peacekeepers are dear to them. The Chinese peacekeepers, through their actions, demonstrated that they were not imperialists who pressed the Malian people. Instead, their mission in the country was to relieve their pains and help them get rid of the crisis," Mara said.
Mara said the terrorist attack did not target China, but it targeted peace. He added that the purpose of the terrorists was to depress those who help Mali and return the country to crisis.
Mali is facing multidimensional crises. Mara said it is very difficult for the Malian government to solve problems in defense, security, intelligence, administration and land management.
He said that maintaining peace would remain the top task for the Malian government in the next five years.He hoped that the Chinese government will continue to provide help to Mali and maintain its peacekeepers in the countrybecause"Mali needs to cooperate with China."
(Reported by Li Na and Wang Meng)