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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
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 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 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.

AppleAndroid