News / Africa

Mali Rebels Meet with ECOWAS Mediator

Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh (L), leader of a team of National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA) speaks to Burkina Faso's minister of foreign affairs Dijbril Bassolé (R) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, June 9, 2012
Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh (L), leader of a team of National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA) speaks to Burkina Faso's minister of foreign affairs Dijbril Bassolé (R) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, June 9, 2012
Nancy Palus
Mali’s Tuareg separatist rebels are eager to negotiate with regional and international leaders on a way forward in northern Mali, one of the group’s leaders said on Saturday. The rebels, who sent a delegation to meet with ECOWAS mediators, looked to distance themselves from Islamic extremist groups with whom they currently share power in the region.
 
A National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) delegation met with Burkina Faso President and ECOWAS mediator Blaise Compaoré on Saturday.
 
The international community is wrestling with the chaotic status of Mali’s vast desert north, where fighters with Islamic extremist groups, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, swept in with MNLA to chase out the Malian army and government just over two months ago. With the more radical groups dominating in the region since, MNLA has found itself in a difficult position, with its aim of an independent Tuareg state getting lost in a wider problem.
 
MNLA's Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh talked to reporters just after the meeting in the Burkina capital Ouagadougou.

He said MNLA sets itself apart from all groups in the region of Islamic or terrorist orientation.  Assaleh acknowledged that the Tuareg separatists had tried to create an alliance with the Tuareg Islamist group Ansar Dine, but saw that it would not stand.  
 
MNLA, which has long maintained that it is committed to fighting terrorism, raised eyebrows in late May when it announced a pact with Ansar Dine, a group said to have close ties with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and which seeks to enforce a strict interpretation of Islamic law in Mali.
 
Assaleh said imposing sharia is not part of his group's political vision, not part of their culture, nor part of their tradition.

MNLA benefitted from Islamic fighters in capturing northern Mali, but the political line was unclear at the time and now troubles are surfacing. Only days after the MNLA-Ansar Dine alliance was announced, the group's political wing backed away from it.  On Friday and Saturday there were reports of clashes between the two groups in Mali’s northern Kidal region.

Assaleh said he delivered an official letter from MNLA’s secretary-general to Compaoré, stating that the group is ready to negotiate and accepts ECOWAS and the international mediation toward an end to the crisis in northern Mali.
 
Assaleh said it is only normal that MNLA sit with regional and international leaders to hammer out just what a Tuareg independent state would look like.
 
Burkina’s Foreign Minister, Djibril Bassolé, told reporters the meeting was not an opening of official negotiations between MNLA and ECOWAS mediators,  but rather a discussion over terms for an eventual dialogue.
 
He said what’s positive is that MNLA indicated its willingness to find a negotiated solution with ECOWAS and the international community.
 
Bassolé, who said he would be in New York next week to brief the United Nations Security Council on Mali, noted that MNLA representatives would likely also meet soon with other ECOWAS heads of state.
 
 At a June 7 meeting in Abidjan, ECOWAS said they would request a U.N. resolution providing official support for a military intervention in Mali. Regional leaders pledged negotiations were to continue with parties in northern Mali, “except terrorist groups”.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More