Mali: Winning back north a top priority

2012-08-22 12:15
Local residents restoring the City of 333 Saints' Great Djingareyber Mosque in Timbuktu. (AFP, File)

Local residents restoring the City of 333 Saints' Great Djingareyber Mosque in Timbuktu. (AFP, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bamako - Mali's new foreign minister said on Tuesday that winning back the Islamist-occupied north was the top priority of a unity government which was formed on orders from West African mediators.

"The priority is reconquest, the liberation of the north from dark forces currently occupying it," said Tieman Coulibaly, who was appointed as foreign minister on Monday, joining 12 other new cabinet members in the government shake-up.

He was speaking in an interview with French International Radio (RFI).

The new government, announced by presidential decree on Monday, saw six ministers booted out of their positions in an administration formed to take over from a military junta that took power in a March coup.

Once one of the region's most stable democracies, Mali has crumbled into despair since President Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown by the military.

The ensuing political turmoil allowed al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels to wrest control of the vast desert north, an area larger than France or Texas, where they have enforced strict sharia law.

Controversial prime minister

The new government was formed after an order from Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) mediators. Embattled interim authorities stood by helplessly as the Islamists deepened their hold on the north.

Controversial Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra remains at the head of government despite calls for his resignation from much of Mali's political class who accused him of incompetence and having no plan to win back the north.

Interim President Dioncounda Traore in August declared his confidence in his prime minister, a renowned astrophysicist and former chairperson of Microsoft Africa.

It is hoped the more inclusive government will be able to come up with a solution to win back the north, including requesting the deployment of around 3 000 troops made available by Ecowas.

The national unity government is made up of 31 ministers of almost all political shades including four women.

It includes a new ministry of religious affairs, allies of the prime minister as well as retaining military members close to the former junta in their respective roles as defence, security and territorial administration ministers.

Plans unclear

According to a document seen by AFP on Tuesday and dated 15 August, Diarra has decided to hold a "national dialogue" on how the transition should be led.

He has created a committee of seven people with diverse political backgrounds to set up the talks on an as yet unknown date.

The plans of the government to tackle the Islamist occupation remain unclear.

The extremists seek an Islamic state, and have in recent weeks stoned an unmarried couple to death and cut off the hand of a thief, whipping smokers and drinkers and forcing women to cover up.

Security experts say the various armed Islamist groups are acting under the aegis of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), prompting fears the zone could become a haven for terrorists.

Fighters from Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) have also destroyed part of Timbuktu's cultural treasures, declaring the ancient Muslim shrines "haram" or forbidden in Islam.

Army needs training

Ecowas has presented Bamako with a plan to secure the transition regime and train up Malian soldiers before heading to the north. Bamako has rejected the offer to have regional soldiers secure government institutions.

"Regarding the military intervention, that is where there are difficulties, probably because the military objective as such has not been clearly defined," said Burkina Faso Foreign Minister and chief mediator in the crisis, Djibrill Bassole.

He said in an interview with RFI that Mali's army needs training, equipment and restructuring to be able to win back the north, as an eventual Ecowas force would only be acting "in support".

The new government also has to organise presidential elections.

Read more on:    ecowas  |  al-qaeda  |  dioncounda traore  |  cheick modibo diarra  |  amadou toumani toure  |  mali  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!

 
 

I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.