News / Africa

Tuareg Rebels Reject Disarmament Before Mali Elections

FILE - Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA drive in a convoy of pickup trucks in the northeastern town of Kidal, Mali, February 4, 2013.FILE - Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA drive in a convoy of pickup trucks in the northeastern town of Kidal, Mali, February 4, 2013.
x
FILE - Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA drive in a convoy of pickup trucks in the northeastern town of Kidal, Mali, February 4, 2013.
FILE - Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA drive in a convoy of pickup trucks in the northeastern town of Kidal, Mali, February 4, 2013.
Reuters
Mali's Tuareg separatist rebels dismissed French calls to disarm ahead of July elections on Wednesday saying they would fight to the death if Malian troops entered areas under its control, underscoring the challenge of unifying the West African state.
 
Mahamadou Djeri Maiga, the group's vice president and chief negotiator, said Paris had a moral obligation to force the interim Malian government to the negotiating table to flesh out a deal that would create a framework for autonomy in the north and provide international guarantees.
 
“Have you ever seen a group disarm before negotiations take place?” Maiga said.
 
The restless Tuaregs have launched successive revolts since Mali gained independence from France in 1960, alleging neglect and mistreatment by the black-led central government in Bamako.
 
Despite French pressure, there are no signs in Bamako of talks starting between the government and the MNLA separatists, made up primarily of Tuaregs. Malian officials have said they want to restore their control over the northern region.
 
An announced visit to the Tuareg stronghold of Kidal by Mali's Prime Minister Diango Cissoko was this month postponed indefinitely.
 
“Holding elections just when the Malian army is threatening to enter Kidal is not realistic,” said Maiga. “It's a war that is imminent not elections. If France allows the Malian army to attack us in Kidal, then we will defend ourselves to the death.”
 
The MNLA had seized control of north Mali, which it calls Azawad, in an April 2012 uprising. It was quickly pushed aside by better-armed Islamist rebels, including al-Qaida's North African wing AQIM, sparking fears the region would become a launch pad for attacks on the West.
 
A three-month French-led campaign intervention broke Islamist dominance of northern Mali, sweeping their forces into desert and mountain hideaways, but Paris has now started to withdraw troops as it looks to hand over to U.N. peacekeeping forces by July.
 
French President Francois Hollande has demanded the presidential and legislative elections go ahead as planned. French diplomatic sources say the MNLA must now disarm and become a political party.
 
“France knows our position. We will not accept disarming without a consensus between us and the Malian government. We have to be shown what we will get tomorrow and who will guarantee it,” Maiga said in Paris where he was meeting parliamentarians. 

“France is running Mali,” he said. “It must put pressure on Bamako.”
 
Analysts have warned that a botched election could sow the seeds of further unrest and north-south conflict in the landlocked former French colony.
 
Hundreds of thousands of Malians have been displaced by the fighting and the north remains vulnerable to guerrilla-style counter attacks, despite the presence of thousands of African troops under the AFISMA banner. This is expected to become the backbone for a proposed 11,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission.
 
Highlighting the tensions, a senior government official in Bamako, said he had little faith in the MNLA.

“If they don't disarm by the elections then we'll have to go in and sort them out,” he said.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs