Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Question of Kidal

‘What is happening in Kidal?’ Is the increasingly burning question asked by the entire Malian nation. Why is there no Malian army present in Kidal? The French army is there, and the Chadian Army.  It appears they are patrolling the town in the company of a still fully armed  MNLA.
‘Rebel Group in northern Mali marks anniversary’ announces Al Jazeera in a festive mood, stopping just short of congratulating the MNLA on the anniversary of its unilateral declaration of an independent state of Azawad.  There is a short film showing armed MNLA soldiers by a civic monument in Kidal, well-known to all Malians by now because of the film promoting the region of Kidal which is shown on ORTM every day.  The Al Jazeera’s journalist Mohammed Vall reports from Kidal. I am not quite sure what he says, unfortunately because my internet connection is too bad to use Flash Player.
Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, is urging reconciliation on his short visit to Mali. (Above with Dionkounda Traore)
The reconciliation is of course between the Touaregs and the rest of Mali’s population. The problem is that as long as the MNLA are not disarmed, there can be no reconciliation. The MNLA have refused to disarm, saying they are happy to negotiate however. The idea of negotiating with a fully armed MNLA is of course anathema to the rest of the Malians. So we have arrived at an impasse.
The French are treading a precarious line here and their position is becoming untenable.  It is not possible to support and fight for the reconquest of the Malian territory from rebel hands at the same time as supporting the MNLA.
Fabius did say at a press conference in Bamako:  When the time comes every group, the MNLA as much as any other armed group, will have to accept being confined (to cantonments) and giving up its arms," Although it is encouraging that he acknowledges this, France’s attitude to the MNLA has been  lenient to say the least.
 Mali has released, via Interpol, a list of ten men wanted for crimes ranging between murder, treason, sedition and drug smuggling. Some of these men have been arrested, some, like AG Ghali of the Ansar Dine, are probably hiding out somewhere in the northern desert. Others, such as  Moussa Ag Assarid, the MNLA spokesman are still being given interviews on France 24 and France Inter! This is a scandal and a huge provocation for the Malian people.
There has been much talk in the international press of the Touaregs’ fear of retaliation by the Malian Army. There should be no possibility of such retaliation in Kidal, since the Malian Army will be in the presence of a heavy contingent of French and Chadian soldiers who are already there. The arrival of the Malian soldiers cannot be delayed. The MNLA must be made to lay down their arms. Then the talks of reconciliation can begin, and whatever legitimate grievances the Touareg people may have can begin to be considered.
(A few hours later, I have read this to Keita. He wants to add some questions, and I will simply translate what he says:

Three questions to all the democrats of this planet who are now imposing elections on Mali by end of July:

Is it possible to talk of elections if the MNLA do not disarm?

Can there be two different armies in a democratic country?

Who is at the origin of Mali's problems, if it is not the MNLA? They are the cause of the coup d'etat and they are the once that invited the MUJAO and the other assorted criminals into the north.
Everyone who knows this country knows that Malians are not a violent people and that Malians are open to dialogue.)


Blogger Unknown said...

Well this is much more informative than the press. All we have heard is that Timbuktu gave Francois Hollande a camel as a gesture of thanks but that the camel accidentally became part of a tagine.

8:42 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

hello Claire- yes the camel story is amusing... meanwhile there is total silence on Kidal. Noone wants to talk about it. Noone quite knows what to say- there is the question of hostages, and the reason for the non-coverage of the Kidal situation is possibly that the French must be given time to negociate the several hostages which may be held in the area of Kidal, and that the MNLA may be of some use in these negotiations. Who knows?

10:11 AM  

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