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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid