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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs