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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora