News / Africa

    Mali Government Meets Rebels

    FILE: Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced a cease-fire Friday.
    FILE: Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced a cease-fire Friday.
    Anne Look
    It has been a week since the Malian government and rebel groups in the north agreed to a ceasefire following heavy fighting in the far northern town of Kidal.  The two sides met in Burkina Faso's capital late Thursday in what many hope will be a first step toward getting the peace process back on track.

    The Malian government requested the meeting Thursday. The MNLA agreed to meet with a senior representative for Mali's president in Ouagadougou in the presence of the regional mediator.

    The talks were preliminary, aimed at testing the waters just more than a week after a failed Malian military offensive against the rebel fiefdom of Kidal.

    The MNLA had seized the governor's building there in fighting earlier this month.  The MNLA, alongside other armed groups, pushed back the Malian army on May 21 and took control of several other northern towns.

    At least one senior Malian military official has resigned over the defeat that killed 50 soldiers and resulted in about 50 soldiers and civil servants being taken prisoner.  

    Both sides agreed to a ceasefire.  The question now is whether they can get to the table for definitive peace talks, something they failed to do last year as planned.

    MNLA spokesman Moussa ag Attaher took part in Thursday's meeting in Ouagadougou.  He said it was a "positive first step."

    "We hope the unfortunate events in Kidal have shown the Malian government this policy of burying its head in the sand does not work anymore and that it is in their interest to respect their engagements, move toward lasting peace and respect the ceasefire," said ag Attaher.

    The MNLA is the latest iteration of what have been decades of Tuareg separatist movements in the region.

    Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says he will not negotiate any form of autonomy for the region of Kidal.

    Burkina Faso has been meditating talks between Mali and armed groups in the north since 2012.  Burkinabe foreign affairs minister, Djibril Bassole, was at Thursday's meeting.

    "It is now time for some concrete action to get peace talks organized, starting, with some 'shows of good faith.'  The liberation of prisoners was brought up Thursday though no decision was made.  An exchange of prisoners, though not those accused of war crimes, would be an important step toward building trust and calming tensions," said Bassole.

    The MNLA says it is ready to release the prisoners it took during hostilities this month on the condition that Mali liberate those it has detained on suspicion of being with the MNLA.  The MNLA says those people are just "peasants" and "shepherds. The Malian government says they are rebel combatants.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora