April 18 - Police officers back on Gao streets, signalling a return to Malian administration in northern cities ahead of a proposed July national election. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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A small group of police officers return to Gao in Mali.
They are the first officers to arrive since a French-led campaign freed northern Mali's largest town from al Qaeda-linked rebels in January.
(SOUNDBITE)(French) GAO POLICE COMMISSIONER, ISSA TRAORE, SAYING:
"We will proceed with the highest attention, we are faced with a very sensitive population, which has been traumatized, so the work will be at first to raise awareness little by little but at the same time we will try to go in properly, but not abruptly, little by little."
Gao was the scene of fierce fighting earlier in the year.
Hundreds of thousands of were displaced and the fear is it is still vulnerable to guerrilla-style counter attacks, despite the presence of thousands of African troops.
Citizens welcome the return of the police.
(SOUNDBITE)(French) MECHANIC FROM GAO, ALIOU ALHOUSSEINIE, SAYING:
"I think that the arrival of the police is a good thing. Before we didn't have any police and now if there is an argument between people we can call them to moderate the situation."
Mali's prime minister promised elections will go ahead in July despite fears his government is failing to reassert control there after the ousting of Islamist rebels.
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