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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid