News / Africa

Mali, Tuaregs Fault France for Failing Peace Talks

A Malian soldier speaks with Tuareg men Seydou (C) and Abdoul Hassan in the village of Tashek, outside Timbuktu, July 27, 2013.
A Malian soldier speaks with Tuareg men Seydou (C) and Abdoul Hassan in the village of Tashek, outside Timbuktu, July 27, 2013.
Reuters
Mali's government and Tuareg separatists both accused France on Wednesday of not doing enough to resolve the political crisis, underscoring the difficulties Paris has in disengaging itself from its former colony.
 
After winning adulation across Mali for a 5-month military offensive earlier this year that scattered al-Qaida fighters, France is caught in a tug of war between the government in Bamako and rebels demanding some form of autonomy based at Kidal in the north.
 
Mali's interim government signed a peace agreement with Tuareg representatives in mid-June, allowing national elections to take place. As part of the deal, Bamako agreed to open talks over the Tuaregs' demands for more autonomy, but those negotiations have stalled.
 
“The liberation of the country was done jointly [between French and Malian] troops up to Kidal, and then the Malian army was blocked,” Mali's newly-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar KeJita told le Monde newspaper in an interview.
 
“For someone like me, a friend of France, I can see a negative reaction to the enthusiasm towards France by the Malian population that had lauded the intervention.”
 
The comments come on the eve of a summit in Paris where France will try to persuade African leaders that it can no longer play policeman on the continent, even as it prepares to act in a new conflict in Central African Republic.
 
Mali imploded last year when the Tuareg MNLA separatists tried to take control of the north. Their rebellion was soon hijacked by better-armed and funded Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida, before the French intervention in January.
 
French troops cooperated with the MNLA who took control of the remote northeastern town of Kidal and surrounding areas after the Islamist fighters fled French air strikes into the nearby Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.
 
But that on-the-ground cooperation, and France's public insistence that the MNLA should take part in talks on Mali's political future if it drops a demand for full independence for the north, is an irritant for Mali's military.
 
“The international community is forcing us to negotiate on our soil with people who took up arms against the state,” Keita said. “I remind you that we are an independent state.”
 
Under the June peace pact that allowed the government to return to Kidal ahead of elections, the rebels remain in Kidal but were required to return to their barracks under the supervision of U.N. peacekeepers, stop carrying arms in public and dismantle all roadblocks.
 
The MNLA on November 29 said they were ending a five-month-old ceasefire with Mali's government and taking up arms, a day after Malian troops clashed with stone-throwing protesters who blocked a visit by the prime minister to Kidal.
 
It said Bamako was not keeping to its side of the deal.
 
Speaking in Paris, Moussa Ag Assarid, the MNLA's representative in Europe, said the group had been left with no alternative but to defend itself if attacked by Malian troops, given that the peace talks had seen no progress.
 
Bamako was showing “no political desire” to move forward, and Paris was not taking control of the situation, he said.
 
“If Paris does not take a courageous decision and assume its responsibilities then sadly we risk finding ourselves in a  terrible situation,” he told reporters.
 
“France has a historic responsibility to find a solution. Why is [French President Francois] Hollande not trying to find a solution before the Malian government puts in place the same charade as in the past?”
 
Officials at the French foreign ministry were not immediately available for comment.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs