News / Africa

Reconciliation Challenges Ahead for Mali President

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks during inauguration ceremony, Bamako, Sept. 19, 2013.
Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks during inauguration ceremony, Bamako, Sept. 19, 2013.
Anne Look
After Mali's nearly two-year crisis tore the country in half and deepened divisions in both the north and the south, newly elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says reuniting his nation is a top priority.
 
Comparing the job ahead to "stitching back together" what he has called Mali's shredded social fabric, Keita has said he is aiming to get Malians to harmonize as a "national symphony."
 
For many Malians, however, dialogue and justice must precede reconciliation.
 
"First, we need to look at all that has happened, who did what and why," said a man on the streets of Bamako who withheld his name. "Only then will we be able to forgive and start fresh."
 
In a country where decades of government corruption and mismanagement with impunity have undermined development, many Malians are bitter and distrustful of politicians. Ever since January 2012, when Tuareg separatist group MNLA launched a rebellion in the north — followed by a mutiny in the south that led to the government's overthrow — Mali's military has remained dysfunctional and divided.
 
The army, rebels and Islamist militants have all been accused of human rights abuses.
 
For Aminata Idrissa Maiga, a radio presenter in the northern town of Gao, not everything is forgivable.
 
"Some young people joined up with the Islamists because they had to, and they can be forgiven," she said
.
But, she added, they are the exception.
 
"[There are others] who committed very serious crimes," she said. "For them, for the ones who killed people and cut off people's hands and feet, justice must be done."
 
But exactly how to deliver justice remains an open question: Fighting damaged courthouses, police stations and other administrative buildings in the north, and prisons and other judicial resources are already strained in the south.
 
While Malian, French and regional troops retook the north from militants earlier this year, the vast desert region is far from secure and hundreds of thousands of northerners remain displaced.
 
The government also signed a temporary ceasefire deal with MNLA in June to allow elections to go ahead, but tensions continue to run high in the far northeastern region of Kidal, the Tuareg rebel stronghold.
 
MNLA external affairs director Ibrahim ag Asseleh says reconciliation will be possible only when they get what successive Tuareg rebel groups have been seeking for decades.
 
"Mali needs to accept a large autonomy for Azawad," he said, referring to Mali's three northern regions. "That is the lasting solution to this problem."
 
Following a preliminary meeting between northern armed groups on Tuesday, however, Keita said he will not consider independence or a system of federalism in upcoming, regionally-mediated negotiations.
 
"I have taken an oath to protect Mali's territorial integrity and I will not negotiate on this point," Keita said. "Everything else is possible, but not independence or autonomy."
 
In Mali’s north, where the Tuareg are a minority, previous peace accords involving only rebels and the government have failed. Keita’s government is vowing will hold regional assemblies starting in October, followed by a national assembly to gather up the grievances of all Malians, not just the rebels, before peace talks begin.
 
Cheikh Oumar Diarrah, head of Mali's new Ministry of Reconciliation and Northern Development, has also pledged to revamp the truth-telling commission, which was created in April and has so far been largely inactive.
 
"We will confront the truth. We are going to listen to everyone," he said. "Each person's story is important for Mali."
 
Amadou Maiga contributed reporting from Bamako; Nick Loom contributed reporting from Gao.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid