Senin, 02 April 2012

Having taken Timbuktu , rebels ready to talk with military leaders....

Tuareg rebels ready for Mali talks
City of Timbuktu falls to rebels in the north, as pressure mounts on coup leader to hand over power.
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2012 11:05
Tuareg rebels in Mali's north have expressed a willingness to negotiate with the government or regional bloc ECOWAS after having seized the ancient city of Timbuktu.
The rebel offensive came amid the chaos gripping the west African country following last week's military coup.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) said they were no longer seeking to expand their area of control, having secured the borders of what the group considers to be a Tuareg homeland.
"Our objective it not to go further than the Azawad borders. We don't want to create problems for the government of Mali, and even less create problems in the sub-region," said Hama Ag Mahmoud, of the MNLA's political wing.
"We don't want to give anyone the impression that we're gung-ho for the war, so from the moment we have liberated our territories, our objective is achieved, we stop there."
He said that while his group had not yet been contacted regarding talks, they were open to them.
"We are open to all attempts ... [to] all means of negotiations through ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], through another organ or through big powers, we are effectively open, but for now we haven't received any attempt of negotiation," he said.
Timbuktu seized
Earlier, the rebels overran Timbuktu, a long-time target of their movement.
"[Tuareg rebels] have arrived in the town. They are planting their flag," El Hadj Baba Haidara, a member of parliament for Timbuktu, told the Reuters news agency on Sunday.
A resident told the Reuters news agency that the rebels had hoisted the Tuareg flag at the governor's office, the mayor's office and the main military camp.

Profile: Amadou Toumani Toure
Timeline: Mali since 1960
Explainer: Tuareg rebellion
Tuareg rebellion: What next? 
Several witnesses told the AFP news agency that rebels were in the city and that gunshots were heard.
The capture of Timbuktu came hours after the rebels took the garrison town of Gao, following a withdrawal by Malian army forces.
Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Mali capital, Bamako, said that by capturing Timbuktu, the rebels had "managed to do what had eluded them for decades".
He said that when mutinous soldiers overthrew the government, they said it was with the intention of establishing a genuine democracy in Mali.
"However, what they failed to take into account was that the army was sort of disintegrating and that the rebellion was going to take advantage of that situation to claim more than one third of the country," he added.
Fighting under the banner of the MNLA, the rebels re-launched their decades-long military campaign for a separate homeland in mid-January and have since seized Kidal, another key town in the north.

The setbacks at the hands of the heavily armed rebels piled pressure on Mali's coup leaders who had been given until Monday to start handing back power or face sanctions by the ECOWAS regional bloc.
Constitution 'reinstated'
Threatened with crippling sanctions, coup leader Amadou Sanogo has agreed to reinstate the constitution and hold elections.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Bamako
Sanogo, who dissolved the nation's constitution after grabbing power, said on Sunday that the 1992 law had been "reinstated".
"We make the solemn commitment to restore, from this day, the constitution of the Republic of Mali of February 25, 1992, as well as the republic's institutions," Sanogo told journalists in Bamako.
He said the military rulers had "decided to engage, under the guidance of a mediator, in consultations with all the forces active in our country in the framework of a national convention".
These talks should lead to the creation of transitional organs "to organise free, open and democratic elections in which we will not participate," said Sanogo. He did not specify the duration of the transition.
And after that concession, neighbouring countries have agreed to mediate between the rebels and the military rulers.
Economic sanctions
Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, President of ECOWAS, told Al Jazeera the West African regional bloc was satisfied with Sanogo's intentions.
ECOWAS had earlier told the coup leaders to start handing over power or face sanctions.
"This is what ECOWAS demands, that the constitutional order be re-established," Ouedraogo said.
"And if the junta is now accepting this plan we do not see any other difficulty, we are ready to accompany them to restore normality and then we will see how to deal with the situation in the north.

"We want a peaceful solution. That's why ECOWAS has called for a ceasefire and we offer negotiations with the rebels. But in case they don't accept the offer of negotiations, then ECOWAS will use any other means to protect the territorial integrity of Mali."
In addition to a threat to close borders to a country largely dependant on fuel imports, ECOWAS had vowed to starve Mali of funds from the central bank of the regional monetary union, and impose asset freezes and travel bans on individual coup leaders.
Banks in Bamako put a limit on withdrawals on Saturday in anticipation of a run on their cash stocks on Monday, while shares in mining companies in Africa's third-largest gold producer have plunged due to the unrest.
Mid-ranking officers toppled Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 in protest at not having adequate weaponry to rein in the Tuareg rebels.
While coup leaders won some support from many Malians fed up with Toure's rule, the latest military defeats and the sheer scale of foreign disapproval have weakened their position.


The Tuareg secessionist movement The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) came one step closer to realizing their dream today, capturing the legendary city of Timbuktu along the Niger River and pushing the Malian military nearly entirely out of their claimed territory.
Timbuktu isn’t a particularly rich or large city anymore, and is perhaps more symbolic than strategically valuable, but the Tuareg fighters overran it fairly easily, capping off a weekend which saw them take the other major city downriver, Gao.
Reports say that the Mali military abandoned the city almost immediately, and that the fighting was between the Tuaregs and Arab militias from inside the side. Though the NMLA has centered its demands on Tuareg-dominated territory, the southern cities like Timbuktu are predominantly non-Tuareg.
The Mali military junta, which seized the country just over a week ago and is now pleading for foreign intervention to help them stop the Tuaregs, appears to be backing off some of its claims as well, announcing that it is restoring the constitution. The coup was a response to a failing war strategy, but the conflict doesn’t appear to be going any better since the ouster of the civilian government.

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