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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs