News / Africa

    Mali Military Intervention Support Growing

    People originally from northern Mali carry signs reading 'We support army action to liberate the North,' as thousands of Malians, including elected officials, front, marched in support of foreign aid and military intervention to retake Mali's north from I
    People originally from northern Mali carry signs reading 'We support army action to liberate the North,' as thousands of Malians, including elected officials, front, marched in support of foreign aid and military intervention to retake Mali's north from I
    Peter Tinti
    High-level delegations from the United Nations, West African bloc ECOWAS, and the African and European Unions meet with Malian leaders Friday to hammer out details for proposed military intervention to retake Mali's north.  

    In Mali's capital city of Bamako Men gather every morning at roadside newspaper vendors to debate the headlines, more specifically, what to do about the north dominates discussion.

    The territory fell to al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants in April amid the chaos that followed a March 22 coup in the south.  
    Mali Military Intervention Support Growing
    Mali Military Intervention Support Growingi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    As the crisis drags on, hopes for a negotiated solution appear to be fading.  What was once fierce resistance to the prospect of foreign troops in Mali appears to be waning.

    Many in Bamako say they worry that Mali's army is still too disorganized and poorly equipped to take back the region alone.

    Bamako resident Moussa Cisse says the Malian military needs training.  It is disorganized at this moment and needs the help of ECOWAS, but only with training.  He says then Mali can liberate the north by itself.

    But hundreds of Malians marched in Bamako against the idea of ECOWAS military deployment.  The protest was organized by COPAM, a coalition backing the junta that toppled the government.  The coalition has objected to ECOWAS involvement in Mali since the coup and has staged regular demonstrations.

    It was hard not to compare the turnout to the thousands of people who marched last week in support of ECOWAS troops coming to Mali.

    Local analysts say those who oppose foreign assistance are being marginalized within the interim government, which appears to be increasingly independent from coup leaders.

    Attitudes are also shifting in the North, not just about foreign military assistance, but also about the idea of an offensive.

    VOA spoke over the phone with residents of occupied northern towns who asked not to be named for fear of being targeted by Islamist militants.

    One resident of Gao said he believes that the time for negotiations has passed, after months of living under harsh Islamist rule.

    He says military intervention is necessary.  Mali has negotiated with armed groups in the past, he says, but the problems always come back a few years later and this time is different.  He says the population has "had enough" and it is time for war in order to "clear the path."  He says there is nothing to negotiate, because the Islamists want Sharia or nothing.

    A resident of Timbuktu now living in Bamako echoed these sentiments, arguing his friends and family who stayed behind all support military action.

    The people in the north are suffering, he says, and when they heard about a possible military intervention by ECOWAS, he says everyone was happy.  He says Mali is a secular country and there cannot be Sharia law because Malians live together, whether one is Christian, animist or Muslim.

    The U.N. refugee agency says at least 450,000 northerners have fled into neighboring countries or into the government-held south since the start of the year.

    A recent report by the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights cited many human rights abuses committed by Islamists in the north, including amputations, recruitment of child soldiers and "enforced marriages that are a smokescreen for enforced prostitution."  Smoking and music are banned, and in many towns women are forced to wear a veil and are forbidden from interacting with men in public.

    Amid these reports, many Malians appear to be reaching the conclusion this crisis is fundamentally different from past rebellions, in which secular, ethnic Tuareg separatists sought greater autonomy and independence for the region.

    But there continues to be a broad mix of opinions regarding how a military intervention should be carried out.  Many Malians who support military intervention say they fear that a hastily-planned, poorly-executed military campaign, by either the army or a regional force, would just make the crisis worse.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora