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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board 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.
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.
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