News / Africa

Mali President Says No Talks With Islamists

Mali's President Dioncounda Traore, center, visits the troops on the military side of Bamako's airport, January 16, 2013.
Mali's President Dioncounda Traore, center, visits the troops on the military side of Bamako's airport, January 16, 2013.
VOA News
Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, says he is refusing to hold talks with Islamists who controlled the north before French and Malian forces drove them out.

But Traore told French radio Thursday he would consider meeting with the Tuareg rebel group MNLA if it drops its claim to Malian territory.

The MNLA has been fighting for a Tuareg homeland. It seized part of northern Mali last year and later joined forces with Islamic militants when the Malian government collapsed.

The Tuaregs later split with the militants when they imposed conservative Islamic law in the north, and the MNLA now says it backs the French military operation in Mali.

Success

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C) poses with French soldiers as they prepare to depart for Mali during a visit at the military base of Miramas, southern France, January 25, 2013.French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C) poses with French soldiers as they prepare to depart for Mali during a visit at the military base of Miramas, southern France, January 25, 2013.
x
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C) poses with French soldiers as they prepare to depart for Mali during a visit at the military base of Miramas, southern France, January 25, 2013.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C) poses with French soldiers as they prepare to depart for Mali during a visit at the military base of Miramas, southern France, January 25, 2013.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian Thursday declared the intervention in Mali a success Thursday, but added that Mali's situation is not yet secure. The minister said in an interview on French radio that the Malians must establish "a reconciliation process" to ensure a stable future.


In Mali Thursday, an army spokesman, Captain Modibo Traore, told VOA that four soldiers were killed when their vehicle ran over a land mine near Gao. The blast wounded another five people.

VOA correspondent Anne Look, who is traveling with French troops in Mali, says the presence of land mines has raised concerns about the safety of troops and civilians.

"What's disturbing about this is that is does seem to confirm fears that the Islamists did mine roads or did leave booby traps for troops coming in, something we've been hearing about from residents of towns like Gao for a while," she said.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
French-led forces were reported in control of three key towns in northern Mali Wednesday, after al-Qaida-linked militants fled their last stronghold and escaped into a vast desert region with their weapons.

Insurgents mounted no resistance as French troops arrived at the Kidal airport late Tuesday, just days after they captured Gao and Timbuktu.

Because the cities were recaptured so rapidly and easily, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country's forces will be leaving Mali sooner than expected. An African intervention force backed by the United Nations is preparing to deploy at least 6,000 troops to the region.

Peacekeeping

Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali, January 29, 2013.Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali, January 29, 2013.
x
Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali, January 29, 2013.
Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali, January 29, 2013.
The African troops will be responsible for holding the towns and tracking down Islamist fighters. French authorities say the insurgents melted into villages in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains and surrounding desert areas.

The MNLA first launched a rebellion in the north last January seeking autonomy, but later joined the Islamists to seize control of the region following a coup in Bamako that toppled the government.  The Islamists later pushed the Tuaregs aside and moved to impose strict Islamic law.

French forces launched an offensive against the Islamists nearly three weeks ago as the groups made a push in the direction of the capital, Bamako.

An African-led force is being assembled to help secure Mali once the French forces leave.

The U.S. State Department welcomed the successes of the French-led force, and said its replacements will be challenged to hold the newly liberated towns.  Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the African force faces the task of pursuing the Islamists to ensure they cannot regroup and return.

  • French soldiers patrol outside Djinguereber mosque after Friday prayers in the center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • People hold Malian and French flags during the reopening ceremony of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu, February 1, 2013. 
  • Children celebrate holding a French flag during the reopening ceremony of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • Islamist rebel prisoners guarded by Malian gendarmes are seen at a military camp in the center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • Malian gendarmes show weapons used by Islamist rebels at a military camp in the center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • During an official visit organized by the French military, residents and journalists gather around a French Sagay tank positioned overlooking the bridge crossing the river Niger at the entrance of Gao, Mali, January 31, 2013.
  • During an official visit organized by the French military, French troops are positioned overlooking the bridge crossing the river Niger at the entrance of Gao, Mali, January 31, 2013.
  • Three Malian girls walk in the streets of Gao, Mali, January 31, 2013.
  • Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, Mali, January 29, 2013.
  • This photo released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office shows a crowd cheering the arrival of French soldiers in Timbuktu, Mali, January 28, 2013.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Matthew Evans from: Canada
January 31, 2013 11:35 AM
Let's not have any "Mission Accomplished" banners. I have a feeling there are going to be some more chapters to this story

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs