France’s President Francois Hollande says French troops have started military intervention in Mali to help the Malian government repel the rebels that control the northern part of the West African country.
“I have agreed to Mali’s demand, which means French forces have provided support to Mali this afternoon…. This operation will last as long as is necessary,” Hollande said on Friday.
He added that French forces had arrived in the capital, Bamako, hours earlier.
Malian officials say troops from Nigeria and Senegal have already arrived on the ground to support government forces in their battle against the militants.
“Today, we have partners from Nigeria, Senegal…and more on the ground, to give us some assistance,” Oumar Dao, chief of operations at the Mali Defense Ministry, said earlier in the day.
“Our operational team will define what kind of aid they will provide,” Dao added.
The reports of the deployment of foreign troops in Mali come just a day after militants seized the central town of Konna.
In December 2012, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of foreign military forces in Mali to help the African government battle the militants.
The 15-member Security Council authorized an initial one-year deployment of African Union forces in the country. The resolution, drafted by France, also authorized all European Union member states to help rebuild Mali’s security forces.
Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they had mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the two-month Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
WINDHOEK – Namibia has blamed the architects of last year’s overthrow of the Libyan government for the civil strife and the recent coup against a democratically elected government in Mali.
Tuareg rebels in Mali have proclaimed independence for the country’s northern part after capturing key towns this week.
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi administration fell last year after local rebels, with the help of NATO forces – and initially France, Britain and the USA – drove the long-serving leader out of the capital Tripoli and ultimately killed him after months in hiding.
The Namibian government believes the events in Libya are now bearing sour fruit within the western and northern parts of Africa, in what is known as the Sahel region.
“The profoundly retrogressive developments in Mali are a direct consequence of the unstable security and political situation in Libya, created by the precipitous military overthrow of the government of Libya in 2011,” a government statement, released Tuesday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, states.
The statement continued: “Accordingly, those countries that rushed to use military force in Libya, had underestimated the severe repercussions of their actions in the Sahel region.”
“They should thus bear some responsibility for the instability in Mali and the general insecurity in the region.”
Nomadic Tuaregs have harboured ambitions to secede Mali’s northern part since the country’s independence from France in 1960, but lack of foreign support for this idea meant the dream would only be realized 52 years later.
Namibia herself survived a secession attempt in 1999 when a self-styled rebel group, led by former Swapo and DTA politician Mishake Muyongo, now exiled in Denmark, attempted to separate the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
The Mali situation already cost Amadou Toumani Toure his job last month, when junior army officers overthrew him for what they say was his reluctance to avail resources needed to fight the advancing Tuareg rebels.
Speaker of Mali’s parliament, Doincounda Traore, was expected to be sworn in as president yesterday morning, a development that would restore civilian rule in the humanitarian crisis-hit West African country.
Traore is inheriting control of only half of the country, with northern Mali now falling under control of Tuareg rebels and Islamists.
Namibia said those tearing Mali into administrative pieces should have observed the African Union’s principle of inviolability of borders of the African countries.
“This principle of indivisibility of borders has served Africa well since its adoption by the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) Summit in Cairo in 1964,” the statement further reads.
It further stated: “The Government of Namibia reiterates its unequivocal rejection of any attempt to dismember any African country and unreservedly condemns all manner of secessionist aspirations.”
Namibia is yet to officially recognize the new Libyan government, whose local embassy held a ‘revolution anniversary’ in February without attendance of any notable officials of the Namibian government.
Facing strong international criticism for toppling the legitimate government of Mali, the leader of the recent coup d’état in the African country has called for foreign help.
The plea comes hours after Tuareg separatist rebels entered the strategic town of Kidal, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the capital.
Speaking to the media outlets at a military barrack, which has now become the junta’s headquarters, the leader of the coup, Amadou Haya Sanogo, claimed, “Our army needs the help of Mali’s friends to save the civilian population and Mali’s territorial integrity.”
The coup junta is likely to face potential risk of being frozen out by the country’s foreign allies as the neighboring countries have threatened to impose possible economic sanctions on the landlocked country.
On March 22, renegade Malian soldiers led by Amadou Haya Sanogo toppled Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup and took control of government institutions.
The coup leaders said they mounted the coup out of anger at the government’s inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in north of the country.
Mali has been scene of rebellion by some separatist elements, namely Tuareg fighters in the north of the country, fighting the government to, in their terms “protect and progressively re-occupy the Azawad territory.”
Azawad is the tuareg name for the northern region of the country, covering the areas of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao.
The coup drew international condemnation. The African Union, the ECOWAS, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the International Crisis Group, and the United Nations have all denounced the military takeover of the government in the West African country.
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Renegade Malian soldiers say they have toppled the government of President Amadou Toumani Toure and seized power in the West African state.
“We are in control of the presidential palace,” AFP quoted one of the rebels as saying on Thursday.
The rebellion ignited Wednesday afternoon over criticism against the government’s handling of a Tuareg insurrection in the north and turned into an apparent coup.
Following an armed conflict, the rebels seized the presidential palace and arrested several ministers, including Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and Interior Minister Kafouhouna Kone, the report said.
Toure, however, has managed to escape from the premises, an independent source said.
Lieutenant Amadou Konare, the spokesman of the soldiers, calling themselves National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy, appeared on television and announced the dissolution of state institutions and suspension of the constitution.
Konare also said a curfew will be in place from midnight to six a.m. local time.
He added that upon consultations with all the Malian political factions, a national unity cabinet will be formed in the coming days and the transitional government will run the country until power is ceded to a civilian government after “free and transparent” elections in near future.
The spokesman cited the former government’s security failures in northern Mali and its “inability” to fight terrorism as well as threats to national unity, and the uncertainty shadowing general elections in 2012 as some of the major reasons behind the mutiny.