News / Africa

Facing Constraints, US Urges Political Progress in Mali

Gabe Joselow
A U.S. representative at the African Union summit says a political solution is needed in Mali alongside military operations to bring stability to the country that was seized by a militant uprising in the north. While the U.S. says it will support the African force in Mali, Washington cannot fully engage with the country until a new government is elected.

The United States has given its backing to the African-led military mission to confront al-Qaida-linked militants who have seized territory in northern Mali following a coup in March. The United States is providing logistical support and equipment to countries involved in operations against the militants, but the State Department says the political crisis in the country must also be addressed.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Don Yamamoto said in an interview with VOA on Saturday that, legally, the United States has its hands tied until a new government is put in place.

“As you know, the United States, we cannot provide any assistance to the Malian forces, or really Mali in general, until the restrictions are lifted, that is, a government is elected and we can lift the sanctions,” Yamamoto said.

But a political solution seems far off, as militants have seized huge swathes of territory and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the north.

Yamamoto says holding elections is the first priority and one of the biggest challenges. “Well, first of all is going for elections and of course you can't have elections without involvement of the north and so the question comes in is how are you going to bring the north into this process?" he asked. "And those are issues of discussions.”

The United States is also sending a delegation to an AU donor's conference for Mali being held next week in the Ethiopian capital after the summit.

Yamamoto downplayed expectations for a large contribution, due to political wrangling over the budget on Capitol Hill.

“Whatever number we do give, again, it's going to be dependent on the upcoming budget debates in Washington, but remember we are looking at all ways we can support this operation,”  noted Yamaoto.

The U.S. is under scrutiny for its response to the crisis in Mali, as one of the most supportive backers of the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

But Jakkie Cilliers, the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies, says the spread of Islamist militancy in northern Africa and Somali to another extent, is partially the result of past U.S. counter-terrorism policies.

“It's a little bit of a blowback on the war on terror, and I think that the U.S. recognizes that Africa could become the next frontier in the global war on terror," Cilliers noted. "And the issue needs to be dealt with and dealt with quickly, so it's in the U.S. interest.”

The Obama administration has also supported the French military intervention in Mali, though there are reports of tension between the two sides on the degree of U.S. involvement, with France asking for more logistical support.

French warplanes have been attacking rebel positions in support of Malian troops and France is deploying some 3,000 soldiers.

The African-led military force initially called for 3,300 troops from African countries. But a growing number of countries have pledged soldiers to the mission, prompting the AU Peace and Security Council to ask for an increase in the mandate and immediate financial assistance from the United Nations.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Pasquinel from: Canada
January 27, 2013 3:23 PM
What? No one for Obama to overthrow? Look how peaceful Libia and Egypt are now.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs