News / Africa

Mali Government, Rebels Hold Talks

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop (C) chairs a meeting on peace talks, attended by Mali's various warring factions for the first time since an interim agreement in June 2013, on July 16, 2014 in the Algerian capital Algiers.
Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop (C) chairs a meeting on peace talks, attended by Mali's various warring factions for the first time since an interim agreement in June 2013, on July 16, 2014 in the Algerian capital Algiers.
Katarina Hoije

The Mali government and rebel groups begin meetings Wednesday in Algiers to hash out a final peace arrangement a year after returning to democracy.  The talks - which include African mediators - come amid this month's escalation of violence in the north, in violation of a May ceasefire.  Meanwhile French President Francois Hollande is expected in West Africa later this week to flesh out his new counter-terrorism strategy in the Sahel - which will replace the current French troop presence in northern Mali. 
 
Violent clashes and suicide attacks continue to plague northern Mali.  This, despite French military intervention, elections and  international mediation following a 2012 military coup which led to the country being torn apart by separatists.
 
In May, Mali's army suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hand of Tuareg separatists after an attempt to seize their stronghold Kidal. Last week more than 35 people were killed in clashes between the MNLA rebels, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and the MAA, the Arab Movement of Azawad. On Monday a suicide attack against a French army patrol killed one soldier and injured six.
 
The talks in Algeria are the first real effort to bring Mali's factions together to draw a road map on how to resolve differences.
 
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has signalled he is willing to compromise, but has ruled out any final deal which threatens Mali's territorial integrity or secularism.  To underscore this, al-Qaida-linked Islamist separatists groups - which occupied northern Mali in 2012 before being ousted by a French military offensive - have been excluded from negotiations.
 
Mediators from the African Union (AU) among other African groups will be facilitating these difficult talks.
 
Issaka Souare, the special adviser to the head of the AU mission, tolds VOA he is optimistic.   "The African Union in conjunction with other regional [groupings like] ECOWAS [The Economic Community of West African States], the UN, the European Union and others will do everything they can to ensure that we reach a conclusive agreement at the end of this process," he said.
 
Meanwhile, France has announced an end to its 18-month military operation known as Serval which effectively reunited Mali but has not completely stabilized it.  It will be replaced by a broader anti-terrorism operation in the Sahel region.
 
The new operation, called Barkhane, will involve security cooperation with Niger, Chad, Mali and other border nations.  It will see some 3,000 French soldiers deployed - with at least a third of them remaining in northern Mali.  It will also see France assist with drones, fighter jets and other military hardware.  
 
Alain Antil heads the sub-Saharan Africa program for the French Institute for International Relations in Paris.
 
He said operation Barkhane uses French troops already in Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.  He says the new operation will give coherence to the French military presence in the Sahel and to the regional fight against terrorism.
 
French President Francois Hollande heads to West Africa Thursday with stops in Niger and Chad to hold talks with his counterparts on the operation. 

 

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

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