News / Africa

    In South Africa, Rare Support for French Intervention

    African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, left, with French President Francois Hollande, Elysee Palace, Paris, Nov. 14, 2012.
    African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, left, with French President Francois Hollande, Elysee Palace, Paris, Nov. 14, 2012.
    Anita Powell
    African powerhouse South Africa has previously denounced foreign interference on the continent, but the nation is welcoming the French military campaign against Islamist militants in Mali.
     
    Residents of Mali’s fabled town of Timbuktu welcomed French President Francois Holland as a hero and liberator on Saturday, after French forces helped Malian soldiers drive back Islamist rebels from the northern town.
     
    In South Africa, reaction to France’s advance has been more muted, but just as positive, an unusual turn for a country that has staunchly opposed foreign military intervention on the continent and stuck to the African Union credo of “African solutions to African problems.”
     
    In 2011, President Jacob Zuma, addressing events in Libya, said his government believed in the “rejection of any foreign military intervention, whatever its form." His government also opposed French military intervention in Ivory Coast's violent 2011 political crisis.
     
    In the case of however, Zuma says “there was no other alternative” to stop the advance of Islamists, because the Malian army did not have the power to do so after members of Mali’s army led a March coup, motivated in part by their complaint the government did not give them enough support in the fight against Tuareg separatist rebels.
     
    Zuma's response appears to be universal; African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife, said the continental body was “very grateful to France," a surprising statement from a leader who has long been critical of the former colonial power.
     
    Dlamini-Zuma has said she believes French intervention ended her first bid for her current job.
     
    Foreign Ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela says it is critical the Mali operation was asked for by African forces, not France.
     
    “South Africa has got no problems with the assistance of countries like France to deal with the conflict in Mali," Monyela said. "In fact, we welcome it on the basis that there has been consultation, but secondly that it is in response to a request by Africans for this intervention.”
     
    He described France’s 2011 intervention in Ivory Coast — wherein South African officials had favored mediation over military action — as more complicated and political, unlike the fairly straightforward threat in Mali.
     
    “There were a lot of dynamics which were completely different from what you have in Mali, where you are essentially just dealing with rebels who want to overthrow a sitting government," he said. "In the African Union, we do not recognize unconstitutional changes of government or force changes of government, particularly if you are overthrowing a democratically elected government.”
     
    Malians appear to largely support the action against al-Qaida-linked rebels who have killed, mutilated and threatened residents in their drive to impose strict Islamic law. The group has also destroyed priceless historical artifacts in the ancient learning center of Timbuktu.
     
    South African Institute of International Affairs analyst Tom Wheeler says Mali’s willingness to bring in the French was crucial.
     
    "The French had refused to go into the Central African Republic in terms of Hollande’s policy of not interfering in African affairs anymore, withdrawing from that sort of colonial mindset they had," said Wheeler. "In this case, it seemed to meet everybody’s needs — certainly the Mali government, which is in a bit of a disarray, and the army, which is not particularly well organized."
     
    There has been only limited opposition to the French intervention. Egypt’s new president opposed the idea, warning it could create more regional conflict.
     
    Analysts have said they are worried Mali’s Islamist rebels will simply melt into the vast, inhospitable Sahara desert, waiting for another chance to strike.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yvon from: USA
    February 04, 2013 2:24 PM
    Why no Islamist rebel news? the news cannot reach them? or to danger for the news go with them?

    by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
    February 04, 2013 1:05 PM
    France should start with drawing troops today.
    Send in the drone fleet.
    Arm our side and wish them luck.

    Hopefully with confidence gained by the locals
    France/the West will not have to brush these criminals back next year.
    It is extremely important to show the locals the West can not stay. They need to take responsibly as best they can and go for it.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora