News / Africa

Tuareg Rebels in Mali Appeal to Bruised Local Population

Tuareg fighters from the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad sit in their vehicle, in a market in Timbuktu, Mali, April 14, 2012.
Tuareg fighters from the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad sit in their vehicle, in a market in Timbuktu, Mali, April 14, 2012.
Nancy Palus
DAKAR, Senegal - Tuareg rebels in northern Mali are looking to reconcile with an angry local population. Residents there say rebels know they will have to co-exist with the people whether the future brings a negotiated solution or military intervention.
 
Leaders of the Tuareg separatist group Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA, met Friday with youths in Gao to ask forgiveness for the difficulties people have faced since armed groups seized northern Mali in late March.
 
Days earlier MNLA leaders got on local radio in Gao, asking the people's forgiveness, appealing in particular to the majority Songhaï population.
 
MNLA and the Islamist militant groups fighting alongside them looted hospitals, banks and houses as they took northern Mali, which is home to several ethnic groups.
 
Since the takeover, food, water and electricity are scarce. Traders are regularly subject to extortion by the armed groups now claiming authority. And Islamist militants who swept into Mali with MNLA have carried out harsh punishments purportedly in adherence to the strict interpretation of Sharia they want to impose across the country.
 
As regional and international leaders explore military and non-military solutions for northern Mali, MNLA is reaching out to both mediators and the local population.
 
While efforts at negotiations continue, the armed groups in the north are bracing for a possible military offensive against them. In a recent communiqué, MNLA's transitional government, named earlier this month, said any calls for military intervention are "irresponsible."
 
In their meeting with youths in Gao, MNLA members wanted to know the young men’s views of possible military action by the regional bloc ECOWAS, and whose side they would they be on.
 
Malians in Gao say the situation has gotten away from MNLA. The Tuareg separatists said as much in their recent radio appeal.
 
Local people who spoke with VOA did not want their names used, fearing trouble with a mix of fighters they say carry arms everywhere, from the market to the mosque.
 
A father of nine in Gao recounted MNLA’s radio message. "They told us they regret what has happened," he said. "They said they never thought things would reach this point; they thought they would just carry out their revolution, but now they are trapped."
 
Another resident of Gao said he is not surprised by MNLA’s pleas to the local population.
 
"I knew they would end up turning to the people, asking for their forgiveness,” he said. “It’s all about trying to win the people over as everyone knows the current situation cannot last." He added, "These are sons of Gao. It is their very own families who have suffered.  MNLA knows they have to live with the people here, come what may."
 
As for MNLA’s appeal for forgiveness, he said, "When they liberate the north for good, and stop coming back and destroying all we have, we might pardon them."
 
The father in Gao said the majority is hostage to a heavily armed minority. "The damage has been incalculable. We are devastated and our souls have been ripped apart," he said.
 
His is one of countless families that have been broken up by the unrest. "Some of my children are in the capital, Bamako, others in Niger. Can you imagine what that does to a family of little means? So you see why I and most of the people here are not ready to collaborate with MNLA," he said.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid