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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More