News / Africa

France Says Mali Elections Feasible, Urges Tuaregs to Disarm

Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly (R) and France's Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attend a news conference in Bamako, Mali, April 5, 2013.Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly (R) and France's Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attend a news conference in Bamako, Mali, April 5, 2013.
x
Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly (R) and France's Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attend a news conference in Bamako, Mali, April 5, 2013.
Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly (R) and France's Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attend a news conference in Bamako, Mali, April 5, 2013.
Reuters
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday France would stick to plans to reduce its military presence in Mali ahead of elections in July, and he called on Tuareg rebels to lay down their arms so the vote could go ahead.

Visiting the Malian capital Bamako for talks with the interim government, Fabius said France would proceed with plans to cut its military presence from late April despite attacks by Islamist fighters in northern cities.

France intervened dramatically on January 11 to halt a southward Islamist offensive, saying their enclave in northern Mali was a threat to Western security.

A three-month campaign swept the al Qaeda-linked militants from northern Mali's cities into remote desert and mountains, where Tuareg fighters have helped France and their Chadian allies to track down pockets of militants.

Pulling troops

Paris plans to halve its troop presence to 2,000 by July and is pressing its former colony to quickly organize elections to complete a democratic transition after a 2012 coup, potentially opening the door to greater international assistance.

"There has been progress on the security level," Fabius told a news conference in Bamako. "It is best that the elections are held. Our Malian partners say they want that and it is possible. The target is July and everything is being done to respect that deadline."

Fabius called on the MNLA Tuareg separatist rebels, who seized control of the northeast region around the remote town of Kidal after Islamists fled, to lay down their arms and take part in the political process.

"All groups including the MNLA must accept to be confined to barracks and disarm," Fabius said, after meeting with Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore. "We wish to see the official reopening of negotiations."

'Everything in chaos'

Many observers have questioned plans for a swift reduction of France's 4,000 troops in light of the continuing Islamist insurgency and a freeze in peace talks with Tuareg rebels.

Islamist insurgents attacked the northern city of Timbuktu for the second time in a fortnight last week, promising to "open the gates of hell" when the French leave.

The success of a Tuareg uprising early last year sparked the military coup in Bamako in March 2012, but the northern rebellion was soon hijacked by Islamist groups.

Mali's government is still struggling to reestablish control in the three northern regions of Goa, Timbuktu and Kidal, making the organization of elections complicated.

Mariam Diallo, an analyst with the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, said the July date for the elections was not feasible and could lead to further problems in Mali.

"Everything is in chaos and trying rush the elections could be problematic," she told Reuters, saying Mali should be given the time to solve these issues rather than being pressured.

"Most politicians are just returning to Mali: they need to reorganize themselves and start campaigning. It is not certain they will be able to campaign in the north because security is a problem and people cannot travel," she said.

Meeting the timetable

Diallo added that there were still problems, such as the question of displaced people and the electoral register.

A French diplomatic source said there was no reason to believe that delaying elections would significantly change the situation on the ground and there was an urgent need to put a legitimate administration in place.

Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly said the gold- and cotton-producing nation was capable of meeting the timetable.

"Refugees and those displaced internally by the crisis could vote in their camps. It is technically possible," he said.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid