News / Africa

Militant Group in Mali Ready to Negotiate

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore (R) meets with delegation of Ansar Dine for talks on Mali Nov. 6, 2012 in Ouagadougou
Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore (R) meets with delegation of Ansar Dine for talks on Mali Nov. 6, 2012 in Ouagadougou
Anne Look
One of the three armed al-Qaida-linked militant groups in control of northern Mali since April says it rejects all ties to terrorism and is ready to negotiate with Mali's transitional authorities.

A spokesman for the delegation from the Malian Islamist group, Ansar Dine, read the declaration following a meeting with Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore Tuesday in Ouagadougou.

Spokesman Mohamed Aharib says Ansar Dine reiterates its availability to open a "frank and constructive dialogue" with Mali's transitional authorities.  In the interest of creating an environment of confidence and security, he says, Ansar Dine pledges to observe a complete halt in hostilities to guarantee the free movement of people and goods and to facilitate humanitarian aid in the zones under its control.  Ansar Dine, he says, "rejects all form of extremism and terrorism" and pledges to fight organized, cross-border crime.

Ansar Dine is one of four armed groups active in northern Mali where it and other al-Qaida-linked groups are imposing a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, known as Sharia, that has included executions, amputations and other human rights abuses.

A VOA reporter in Ouagadougou pressed the delegation's spokesman, Aharib, on whether Ansar Dine is ready to give up its demands for Sharia.

He says Sharia is another matter and this is not the place to discuss it.

President Compaore is leading regional mediation efforts on behalf of ECOWAS - the Economic Community of West African States - aimed at isolating Ansar Dine and the other Malian armed movement, the Tuareg separatist group the MNLA, from foreign jihadist groups.

Northerners, however,say that there is significant crossover between the three armed Islamist groups in northern Mali, and it is unclear what - if any - impact negotiations with top officials from Ansar Dine could have on the ground.  

The delegation has been in Ouagadougou talking to Burkinabe officials since Friday.  Ansar Dine has also been carrying out talks with Algerian authorities.

Burkina Faso's foreign affairs minister, Djibril Bassole, said he hoped all armed groups in northern Mali would heed the call made by Ansar Dine, in its declaration Tuesday, to stop hostilities and join in talks with the government.

Bassole says he hopes they will abstain from violent acts and abuses of power that serve as useless provocation.  He says in the coming days, he hopes to see Mali's transitional government designate a delegation to enter into direct contact with the Malian armed groups in the hopes of "normalizing" the situation in northern Mali.

ECOWAS continues to prepare for war in northern Mali, even as it seeks to bring local armed groups, like Ansar Dine, to the negotiating table.

ECOWAS defense chiefs met Tuesday in Bamako, where they finalized the strategic plans for an internationally-backed, regional military intervention to retake the North by force.

The Ivorian army chief, General Soumaila Bakayoko, is the president of ECOWAS Defense Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Bakayoko says the ECOWAS mission will bring "peace, security and stability" to the region and the continent.  He called on those present, as well as their individual countries and armies, to act with determination to implement the strategic concept adopted Tuesday to liberate northern Mali.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs