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

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora