News / Africa

ECOWAS Losing Patience with Malian Rebels

Heads of state and members of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) pose for a photograph after attending the 39th ECOWAS Summit in Abuja, March 23, 2011.Heads of state and members of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) pose for a photograph after attending the 39th ECOWAS Summit in Abuja, March 23, 2011.
x
Heads of state and members of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) pose for a photograph after attending the 39th ECOWAS Summit in Abuja, March 23, 2011.
Heads of state and members of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) pose for a photograph after attending the 39th ECOWAS Summit in Abuja, March 23, 2011.
James Butty
An official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says the sub-regional body is running out of time and patience for negotiating a settlement with Mali’s northern rebels.

Abdel Fatau Musah, ECOWAS director for external relations, says if the rebels do not soon relinquish control of the key cities of Gao, Timbuktu, and Kidal, then ECOWAS will have no option but to use all means necessary, including force, to regain control. 

Abdel Fatau Musah, director for external relations, for ECOWAS
Abdel Fatau Musah, director for external relations, for ECOWASi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X



His comments follow reports that officials of the rebel National Liberation Movement of Azawad, which has declared a separate state in northern Mali, held a meeting over the weekend with ECOWAS mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore.

Musah told VOA in an interview Sunday that the talks do not change ECOWAS’ position that the territorial integrity of Mali is non-negotiable.

“If we do not very quickly come to the negotiating table,” he said, “then we are going to use all other measures, including the use of force, to make sure we get them out of these territories.”

Musah said ECOWAS is open for discussing a variety of issues with the rebels.  But he said, on one issue, ECOWAS will not budge: “We are not going to negotiate the territorial integrity of Mali.  All other issues are on the table, but territorial integrity is off the table.”

Musah’s comments follow reports that officials of the rebel National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA), one of the groups now in power in northern Mali, held a meeting over the weekend with ECOWAS mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore.

Speaking after the meeting, MNLA spokesman Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh said his group is ready to negotiate. He says MNLA sets itself apart from all groups in the region of Islamic or terrorist orientation, despite earlier trying to create an alliance with the Tuareg Islamist group Ansar Dine.
 
The Tuaregs are seeking to create an independent secular state of Azawad, while Ansar Dine wants to impose Sharia across the entire country. But the two groups joined forces earlier this year in a fast-moving offensive to seize northern Mali following a March 22 military coup in Bamako.

ECOWAS’ Musah says the coup has complicated regional efforts to intervene in the rebellion. “What is happening now is a very complex situation. It’s a double crisis,” he said. “We’ve got a constitutional crisis in Bamako and the rebellion in the north.”

“We would have preferred that Mali request ECOWAS” assistance, Musah added. But, he said, “The military are still in Bamako, still controlling the situation in Mali behind the scenes. So the transition, that political legitimacy that we need in Bamako, is currently absent.”

He explained ECOWAS, working also in tandem with the African Union, is going through channels at the United Nations to get a mandate under the UN’s Chapter Seven Provision to intervene in Mali.

“We want everybody to come on board,” he said, “and everybody to understand that what is happening in the north of Mali, is just not a threat to Mali, is not only a threat to West Africa, is not only a threat to Africa, but is a threat to international peace and security.”

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid