News / Africa

    Malians Fear Results of Government Inaction in North

    Demonstrators protest Islamist takeover of northern Mali (July 2012 photo)Demonstrators protest Islamist takeover of northern Mali (July 2012 photo)
    x
    Demonstrators protest Islamist takeover of northern Mali (July 2012 photo)
    Demonstrators protest Islamist takeover of northern Mali (July 2012 photo)
    Nancy Palus
    DAKAR — Residents of Gao, in northern Mali, are watching the next moves by the al-Qaida-linked group controlling the region, after a fresh clash over the self-proclaimed jihadist group's bid to enforce strict Islamic law.  It has been more than four months since armed groups chased the Malian army and government out of the north, and people from Gao say the longer the state fails to intervene, the more dangerous and irrevocable the situation becomes.

    The group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJAO, had planned to cut off the hand of an alleged thief in a public square in the city of Gao on Sunday.  MUJAO has controlled Gao since it pushed out Tuareg separatist rebels in late June.
     
    Hours before the planned amputation, local men and women gathered in the square to protest the act, singing the national anthem, some wielding stones and clubs.
     
    They were singing the Malian national anthem, but Gao residents say they increasingly feel as if they have no nation.
     
    And that is dangerous, Malians from the north say.  They say despite a clear determination by Gao residents to resist MUJAO control, over time the jihadist group - which residents say has been quite shrewd in seeking to gain favor with the population - will succeed in recruiting more local youth.  
     
    The MUJAO head of police, who beat up a local journalist for broadcasting statements about Sunday’s protest, is a son of Gao.  Before joining the jihadist group he sold animal hides, according to people from the town.
     
    With time, and absent any intervention by the state, some Gao youths are increasingly inclined to join MUJAO, says this resident of Gao who did not want his name used.
     
    He says it’s true - people in Gao are determined to fight MUJAO or any other armed group that would occupy the north.  But the government must return to the north and soon, he says, to prevent more youths from being tempted to become armed mercenaries for any cause, just for easy money.
     
    On Sunday, as on earlier occasions when the population rose up, MUJAO backed off its bid to enforce its strict interpretation of Sharia.  This is part of the group's strategy, said one Gao native, who said MUJAO leader Abdel Hakim is proceeding “delicately but effectively."
     
    Mahamadou Diouara is a native of northern Mali now living in the capital, Bamako.  He leads one of many self-defense groups in Mali who say they are preparing to fight to take back the north.  Back in April Diouara and some colleagues were warning that Islamic groups were recruiting northern youths.  He says the longer the status quo continues, the firmer the hold the Islamic groups will have.
     
    He says when you’ve got Islamic extremists very powerful at manipulating youth, who are already in a fragile situation, it’s extremely dangerous to simply let that continue.  Because eventually they’re going to pit brother against brother in Gao - that’s what we must prevent, he says.
     
    Diouara said it will take force, not negotiations, to re-establish the Malian state in the north.
     
    The regional bloc ECOWAS is waiting for Mali’s interim government to formally request United Nations approval for an ECOWAS military intervention.  ECOWAS mediator Djibril Bassole traveled to Gao Tuesday to try and speak with representatives of MUJAO and other jihadist groups.  
     
    Mali government spokesperson Hamadoun Touré would not say whether the recent events in Gao would accelerate military action.
     
    He says the latest demonstrations against MUJAO show the people’s attachment to Mali as a secular state and their rejection of Sharia, and the government is proud of that.  He says the government wants to ensure the people of Gao that everything is being done at the national, regional and international level to end their suffering as soon as possible.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora