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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Leaderless, Rudderless, Britain Drifts

    Experts predicted chaos would follow, if Britain decided to vote for Brexit, and chaos has

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora