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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid