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.
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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs