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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid