News / Africa

African Leaders Want UN Support for Mali Military Intervention

Malian military junta troops who carried out a coup in March guard a street after renewed fighting in the capital Bamako, May 1, 2012.
Malian military junta troops who carried out a coup in March guard a street after renewed fighting in the capital Bamako, May 1, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Nancy Palus
DAKAR, Senegal - African leaders will seek United Nations backing for military intervention in northern Mali, which for more than two months has been controlled by armed rebels and Islamic militants. The move comes amid citizen uprisings in the north as well as reported clashes among the armed groups themselves.

After weeks of meetings about how to deal with the takeover of northern Mali by armed groups, the military option is looking increasingly likely.

Following talks in Abidjan Thursday between the African Union, the United Nations and the regional bloc ECOWAS, regional leaders are set to formally request U.N. backing for a military intervention.

Following the Abidjan meeting, head of the ECOWAS commission Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo said ECOWAS was ready to provide troops for this mission, which will be costly and difficult given the hostile terrain. He says ECOWAS is counting on the contribution of the international community.

So to that end, he says, ECOWAS with the African Union’s support will introduce a request to the U.N. Security Council for a resolution that would provide a legal framework and international legitimacy to the action.
 
The latest rebellion by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA, was launched in January, with the stated aim of establishing an independent state in what is now northern Mali. But when MNLA forces seized Mali’s three northern regions in the chaotic days after a March 22 coup in Bamako, fighting alongside them were Islamist extremists seeking to impose a strict version of Islamic law throughout Mali.

With the reportedly better equipped Islamist fighters appearing to dominate throughout northern Mali, the international community is worried about the creation of a vast haven for al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in the West African desert.

African leaders said at the Abidjan meeting that regional mediators would continue negotiations with actors in the north “except terrorist groups." But it could be tough to find MNLA members who might be suitable interlocutors, after recent talk of an alliance between MNLA and the Islamic faction, Ansar Dine.

It is increasingly unclear just what ECOWAS troops would find on the ground in northern Mali, should a military intervention go forward. Islamist fighters from a number of countries are said to be circulating in the region.

This resident of the northern city of Timbuktu, who did not want his name used, said just last night more foreigners arrived.

He says since Thursday evening around 4 p.m. local time, a number of heavily armed foreigners have arrived in Timbuktu, including Pakistanis, Chadians and Algerians. He says it is clear they are there to reinforce al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.  What is not clear, he says, is whether their arrival means they are bracing for a fight. He says the people are afraid and have no idea what the coming days have in store.

The African leaders’ step closer to military action comes amid reports of citizens' protests and clashes among armed groups in the north. MNLA and Ansar Dine forces reportedly clashed in the northern region of Kidal on Thursday night.

Residents of the north have demonstrated against the takeover by armed groups and the enforcement of a strict interpretation of Islamic law. The Timbuktu resident says Ansar Dine there this week declared a curfew, sparking further consternation among residents.

A number of Malian leaders continue to reject any external military intervention. But Mali’s army, routed from the north by the armed fighters earlier this year, is in disarray, with periodic intra-army clashes threatening stability in the capital, Bamako, since the coup d’état.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid