News / Africa

France Tries to Calm Fears Over Mali Pullout

France Tries to Calm Fears Over Mali Pullouti
X
April 06, 2013 12:54 AM
France is planning to start withdrawing its troops from Mali later this month. This follows the intervention in January aimed at driving out Islamist militants who had taken the north of the country. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, France is trying to reassure Mali that the pullout is not premature.
France Tries to Calm Fears Over Mali Pullout
Henry Ridgwell
France is planning to start withdrawing its troops from Mali later this month. This follows the intervention in January aimed at driving out Islamist militants who had taken the north of the country. France is trying to reassure Mali that the pullout is not premature.

In the skies and on the ground, the French Foreign Legion patrols the remote mountains of northern Mali. The troops call this region 'Planet Mars.' The rugged Terz Valley is being used as a hideout by Islamist militants who were driven out of Mali's northern towns and cities.

The patrol captain gives only his first name, Clement.

"The herders have no vehicles and there have been no tourists here for a long time," he said. "In all of this zone there has only been jihadists, no civilians, no women, no children, no nomads. It was really a sanctuary for jihadists."

French troop withdrawal

France is due to start withdrawing its 4,000 troops from Mali at the end of this month. Visiting Bamako Friday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius assured his Malian counterpart that it would not be an "overnight" pullout.

Fabius said this is the direction that needs to be taken, that there will be different political movements with their free political ideas, and it is necessary that a path of dialogue is found.

France will gradually hand over to a United Nations-backed African force of 6,300 in the next few weeks, before an expected U.N. peacekeeping force arrives in July. French troops will make up some of that contingent.

Paul Melly, from policy institute Chatham House, said, "Of course there's always a risk that the jihadists may try to re-stage some sort of comeback, but you've got the Chadians still in force in northern Mali and they're going to be continuing the battle against jihadist elements, and one suspects that actually the French will keep some units, particularly special forces."

EU training base

Sixty kilometers north of Bamako, the European Union is building a training base to improve the capability of the Malian army, which analysts say is poorly paid and ill-equipped. In addition to French trainers, there are soldiers from several European countries.

Lieutenant Colonel Laurent Vieillefosse, who is the commander, said "For the Malian forces, we want to train a battalion of men in 10 weeks. We will proceed step by step."

A battalion, in this case, is 650 men.

Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Send Coulibaly said there is a long rebuilding process ahead for his country's army.

"We need many things," he said. "We need personal arms, we need flak jackets, for example, and helmets. But above all we need to build a republican spirit."

The reconciliation process will be difficult, but not impossible, said Melly of Chatham House. "Northern Mali had many problems but it's a socially complex area, it's not dominated by any one ethnic group. And the jihadists never had the support of more than a very small slice of the population."

Melly said that Mali is trying to rebuild the nation as quickly as possible. The president has announced elections for July, despite fears that such a short timeframe will prove impractical.

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

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

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