News / Africa

Mali Frees Tuareg Rebel Prisoners in Bid to Revive Peace Process

FILE - A delegation of Malian, French and UN army officers greet separatist rebel patriarch Intallah Ag Attaher (C, in white) in Kidal, June 23, 2013.
FILE - A delegation of Malian, French and UN army officers greet separatist rebel patriarch Intallah Ag Attaher (C, in white) in Kidal, June 23, 2013.
Reuters
Mali's government freed 23 rebel prisoners on Wednesday under terms of a June ceasefire deal in an effort to revive a stalled peace process after Tuareg separatists pulled out last week.

Violence has flared in northern Mali since the MNLA rebel group abandoned the ceasefire on Thursday. A grenade attack that wounded two soldiers in the Tuareg stronghold of Kidal on Friday was followed by two days of clashes which began on Sunday.

Justice Minister Ali Bathily said the government hoped the release of the rebel prisoners would help calm the situation.  Prosecutors ordered the arrest this year of dozens of Tuareg and Islamist insurgents who seized the north of Mali last year.

A French-led military operation launched in January killed hundreds of al-Qaida-linked fighters but allowed the MNLA to remain in the town of Kidal, saying their revolt was a domestic political issue. France now aims to wind down its troop presence to 1,000 by year-end.

“With the aim of bringing peace, we have released these prisoners,” Bathily said at a ceremony in Bamako. “They will not be pursued for crimes against humanity or war crimes.”

The government had already freed 32 prisoners under the truce accord, whicb was signed in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso.

Albert Koenders, head of the 12,600-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.

“The liberation of this group of prisoners, it's an important step ... It should be followed, of course, by other measures to restore confidence and restart talks,” he said, calling for rebel forces to return to barracks and disarm.

Mohamed Ag Intallah, the Tuareg clan chieftain of Kidal who attended the ceremony, called on the new government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to do more to honor its commitments under the Ouagadougou accord.

“This is a big step but much remains to be done because the most important prisoners are not the ones here,” he said. “I am waiting for the freeing of those people.”

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid