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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora