French President to Receive U.N. Peace Prize

United Nations honors Francois Hollande for 'peace and stability' in Africa as fighting continues in Mali.

France's President Francois Hollande (R) shakes hands with supporters in Timbuktu on Feb. 2, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
By + More

The United Nations will give one of its highest honors for peace to the president of France, citing his decision to send ground troops into Mali to push back an encroaching Islamic militant movement.

Francois Hollande ordered French troops into Mali last month after a group affiliating itself with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb advanced from the arid Sahel region into the country's more populated southern areas. French efforts to repel the fighters northward have been largely successful, though now they face the challenge of defeating the Islamists on their own ground while maintaining their promise to exit the country swiftly and successfully.

Hollande will receive the Felix Houphouet-Boigny peace award from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for "valuable contribution to peace and stability in Africa," according to a U.N. release.

[PHOTOS: French Troops Arrive in Mali]

"Having assessed the dangers and the repercussions of the situation on Africa, and on Mali in particular, as well as on the rest of the world, the Jury appreciated the solidarity shown by France to the peoples of Africa," said Joaquim Chissano, the former president of Mozambique and chair of the peace prize jury, in a media release.

"The Jury condemns the violation of Mali's territorial integrity, the violation of human rights, the taking of hostages and the destruction of the cultural heritage of humanity in Timbuktu," he added.

[RECAP: Why Did France Invade Mali Anyway?]

The date of the award ceremony is not yet determined. The prize comes with $150,000.

French officials remain divided on how exactly their forces will pull out of Mali. Hollande said in January that troops would remain until the country is stable, though his foreign minister said in a separate venue they would only remain for a matter of weeks.

Fighting continues in the northwest African nation after a car exploded in Kidal and fighting came to a head in Gao, a northern town.

More News: