Minggu, 01 April 2012

Libyan update and spillover conflict in Mali update


Scores dead in southern Libya tribal clashes
Sixteen killed in Sabha in latest fighting between Toubou and Arab tribes that has claimed 147 lives in past week.
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2012 07:28
Fighting between rival groups in the desert city of Sabha has left scores of people dead over the past week [Reuters]
At least 147 people have been killed during a week of clashes between Toubou fighters and Arab tribespeople, the Libyan prime minister and defence minister said in a news conference.
At least 16 people were killed in clashes on Saturday in the southern Libyan desert oasis of Sabha, after a ceasefire brokered the previous day fell apart.
The fighting first erupted on Monday after Arab tribespeople accused the Toubou of killing one of their people.
More than 395 people have been injured throughout the week, Abdurrahim El Keib, Libya's interim prime minister, said on Saturday afternoon in Tripoli, the capital.
He said that the transitional government hoped a new ceasefire would be reached soon.
Al Jazeera's Omar Alsaleh, who attended the press conference in Tripoli, said: "The defense minister said they had established an emergency military command operation in Sabha. They took control of the airport, as well as other important government buildings."
A doctor at Sabha hospital, treating Arab casualties, said eight people were killed and another 50 wounded in fighting between early Saturday morning and noon.
"We haven't slept since yesterday. The Toubou have been attacking Sabha since three in the morning, and they very nearly took the city. Al the residents have taken up arms to defend it," Dr Abdelrahman al-Arish said.

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Adem al-Tebbawi, a local Toubou official, said eight people had been killed and several wounded on their side.

"We have respected a truce and we want reconciliation, but the other tribes, especially the Awled Suleiman, have not stopped attacking us for several days. We have been deprived of both water and power."
On Friday, Toubou chief Issa Abdel Majid Mansur, a one-time opposition activist against the former government of Muammar Gaddafi, called for international intervention to halt what he called "ethnic cleansing".
"We demand that the United Nations and European Union intervene to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Toubou," Mansur said.
Like most of Libya's remote desert communities, tribes living side by side in the oasis of Sabha, more than 600km south of Tripoli, have a history of rivalry.
The fighting in Sabha resembles an earlier outbreak of inter-tribal violence in February in the oasis of Kufra, over 900km to the east.
In both places, the clashes pitted Arab tribes that reportedly had close connections to the late Gaddafi against the Touboue, who are considered close to the rebels that overthrew him.

In both places, authorities struggled to move troops across the hundreds of kilometres of desert highway to keep the peace.
The fighting has undermined the new Libyan government's already fragile authority.
On Wednesday, Toubou leaders threatened to declare a separate state in Libya's south to protect their people, the second such move toward secession this month after leaders in the east declared a semi-autonomous state.


Malian coup leader to restore constitution
Amadou Sanogo bows to regional pressure, as Tuareg rebels sweep through key areas including ancient city of Timbuktu.
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2012 17:42
Mali's military leaders, facing pressure from regional powers and a Tuareg rebellion in the north that has captured key areas including the ancient city of Timbuktu, have said they will restore the country's constitution.
Captain Amadou Sanogo, who grabbed power in a military takeover in March and dissolved the nation's constitution, said on Sunday that the 1992 law has 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 the capital Bamako.
He said the junta 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.
Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, President of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, told Al Jazeera the West African regional bloc was satisfied with Sanogo's intentions. ECOWAS had earlier told the junta 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."
Timbuktu captured
Sanogo's announcement came after Tuareg rebels, capitalising on the chaos in the country, captured the ancient city of Timbuktu on Sunday.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Bamako
"[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 by telephone.
A resident told Reuters the rebels had planted their flag at the governor's office, the mayor's office and the main military camp.
Several witnesses told the AFP news agency that rebels were in the city and that gunshots were heard.
The capture of Timbuktu, long a target of the Tuareg backed by Islamist fighters, came hours after the rebels were reported to have taken the garrison town of Gao following a withdrawal by Malian army forces.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Bamako, said that by capturing Timbuktu, the rebels had "managed to do what had eluded them for decades".
Fighting under the banner of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (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 have been given until Monday to start handing back power or face sanctions by ECOWAS.
Mid-ranking officers toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 in protest at not having adequate weaponry to rein in the Tuareg rebels, who were boosted by heavy arms spilling out of Libya from last year's war.
Sanctions threat
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.
"Everywhere it is burning. Mali cannot fight on all fronts at the same time ... Let us put our personal quarrels aside," Siaka Diakite, secretary-general of the UNTM trade union, said in a statement backed by anti-coup political parties.

Diakite had called on Sanogo, a hitherto obscure US-trained army captain, to agree an exit plan before the deadline imposed by the 15-state ECOWAS for a return of power to civilians.
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.
On Saturday coup leaders hinted they were ready for compromise, announcing after talks with Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso's president, that they would make new proposals for a transition to civilian rule.
"We do not want to confiscate power," Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly told reporters in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, after talks with Compaore, named by ECOWAS as the main mediator in the crisis.


Mali Army Retreats From Military Bases as Rebels Gain Ground

West African neighbors have threatened sanctions and possible war if coup leaders don't immediately restore democracy

by John Glaser, March 31, 2012
Soldiers in the Malian army deserted the main military bases in the town of Gao on Saturday after sustained rebel assault, leading to further instability and a question of whether the coup will hold or descend the country into chaos.
The Tuareg rebels have taken advantage of the instability following the coup in mid-March, which ironically was justified as an attempt to crackdown on the Tuareg. Now, some reports say the rebels have taken control of several military bases.
While the Mali soldiers continue to battle a galvanized rebel insurgency, they also have to deal with neighboring West African leaders in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) who have demanded the coup leaders return Mali to civilian rule or else face severe economic sanctions or even military force.
“We do not want to confiscate power,” colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly told reporters in while Burkina Faso for talks with the president there. ”We will try to refine proposals to quickly reach an institutional solution acceptable to ECOWAS, the international community but also of course our national community,” he added on behalf of coup leader Captain Sanogo.
The instability now in Mali has its roots in the NATO-backed regime change in Libya and the U.S.’s military training of the coup leader, which went until 2010. Whether or not the coup leaders restore a democratic government, what seems to be in the immediate future is continued and intensified fighting between the army and the Tuareg rebels, an impending sanctions regime that would harm the population and possibly a regional war.

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