Protest mars opening of Mali conference

2013-11-01 21:52
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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

Bamako - More than one thousand Malians burnt tyres and set fire to the mayor's residence in the northern city of Gao, to protest against the make-up of a delegation representing them at a nationwide conference.

The demonstration broke out as representatives gathered at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Northern Mali in Bamako, for three days of talks on promoting peace and equality among the marginalised populations of the country's vast desert north.

"There are more than a thousand people now in the streets of Gao. They are protesting against the composition of the local delegation to represent the region in the Bamako conference," said Oumar Dicko, a member of youth movement in the town.

Witnesses told AFP by telephone the protesters had burned tyres across the city, paralysing traffic, set fire to a section of the mayor's residence and threw projectiles at a local government building.

"We were a little overwhelmed. We were forced to use tear gas," a Gao police officer told AFP.

It was not immediately clear why the protesters were objecting over the delegation but the Malian government has agreed to allow Gao to send new representatives.

Hundreds of delegates from across Mali are expected to attend the conference, part of a wider plan to broker peace with the restive north, after it was occupied by Tuareg separatists following a military coup last year.

Accelerating developments

Launching the event, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said government would be devolving "more power" to the regions, to "accelerate their development".

"Armed groups and movements have a strong desire for dialogue. We are also for dialogue. Apart from autonomy and independence, everything is negotiable within the republic," he said.

Mali's northern desert region makes up two-thirds of the territory but poverty is widespread among its Tuareg, Arab, Songhai and Fulani populations and basic infrastructure such as clean water, electricity, schools, hospitals and roads is sparse.

The people of the Sahara desert feel abandoned by the political elites in Bamako and an entrenched sense of disenfranchisement has stoked various political or religiously-motivated rebellions in recent decades.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad launched the most recent insurgency to demand independence for northern Mali on behalf of the traditionally nomadic Tuareg last year, following rebellions in 1960, 1990 and 2000.

The uprising precipitated the fall of the region to militants linked to al-Qaeda, but an intervention by French and African troops in January chased the rebels from the region's main cities.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  ibrahim boubacar keita  |  mali  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.