29 Jun 2012 | 00:00
Power Shifts in Northern Mali
After two days of fighting in Gao, the Islamist Group Ansar Dine has now declared full control of all three major cities in the North of Mali (Gao, Kidal, Timbuktu). Backed by other Islamist groups (AQIM and AQIM splinter group MUJWA – Movement of Unity and Jihad in West Africa) Ansar Dine managed to oust remaining MNLA fighters and take over regional MNLA headquarters on Thursday. Ansar Dine has declared it wants to implement Sharia Law throughout Mali. In cities already under control of Ansar Dine, Sharia law is being imposed with reported prohibition on alcohol consumption, smoking, watching television and playing football. Protests by locals have reportedly broken out against the Islamist take-over.
The MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), which claimed the Northern Azawad territory as an independent state following the March coup, said “its forces beat a tactical retreat in Gao on Wednesday and rejected suggestions they had lost the battle”.
At least 20 people are said to have been killed during the fighting and it is reported that MNLA’s secretary general Bilal Ag Acherif was wounded and has been evacuated from Gao to Burkina Faso. The ICRC mentioned that 41 people have been treated for gunshot wounds in a local hospital.
Ansar Dine Islamists oust Tuareg rebels from Timbuktu
Source: France24 29/6/2012
Islamists rout Tuareg from their own rebellion in north Mali
Source: AFP 29/6/2012
Mali: les islamistes infligent une lourde défaite aux rebelles touareg
Source: Maliweb 27/6/2012
Islamists declare full control of Mali's north
Source: Reuters 28/6/2012
MALI: Students flee Sharia in northern schools
Source: Irin 22/6/2012
Limited Means of Negotiation for Interim Government
Following the March 22 coup, the MNLA was quick to declare independence of the Azawad region. Negotiations, led by Burkina Faso’s President Compaoré were under way, but the power shift in Northern Mali will pose additional challenges to the interim government led by President Dioncounda Traore. Traore was sworn in on April 12 after a deal was brokered between the coup leaders and ECOWAS. On May 21, Traore was badly beaten by supporters of the March Coup after it was announced that he would stay on for another year to organise general elections and quell the rebellion in the North. Traore was closely linked to former President Touré and therefore unpopular with a large part of the population. Currently, Traore stays in France were he has received treatment for his injuries.
Mali President Traore beaten up by protesters
Source: BBC news 21/5/2012
Mali : le mandat des députés prorogé jusqu'à la fin de la transition
Source: Afriquinfos 29/6/2012
Mali Crisis: Who’s who?
Source: BBC news 29/6/2012
It is unclear what negotiating options are left open for the weak interim government, following the recent power shift. A negotiated process was clearly favoured by the interim government, but this might be more difficult now Ansar Dine has full control over the major cities in the North. External intervention might seem a more likely option, as wariness of neighbouring countries over the Islamist take-over of the North will continue to rise.
Earlier this month, ECOWAS and the African Union called for a military intervention under Chapter 7, and approved of a 3,300-strong military force to be deployed to Mali. The Security Council took note of this request and noticed their readiness to further examine the request, as more information would be provided on the means and modalities of a possible deployment.
A recent Irin article explored intervention options and mentioned that an intervention might not be a feasible option yet. Quoting Gilles Yabi of the International Crisis Group:
“The situation in northern Mali is quite different from other situations where a peacekeeping mission can be deployed to monitor a ceasefire, for example… Before approving a mission, the UNSC needs to be sure that ECOWAS has the means to achieve its ends. Previous situations show that the ECOWAS force has serious limitations in terms of logistics, communication equipment, and intelligence capacities, which are essential assets for an operation in a northern Mali.”
Another argument against ECOWAS intervention is the hostility of the general Malian population towards ECOWAS. Also, while France and the US have mentioned willingness to support an ECOWAS-backed force, other Western nations have remained quiet. Gilles Yabi mentions in this regard: “It is not impossible that some of the armed groups in the North would like to see such Western engagement, and use it as a way to mobilize anti-Western foreign support and internationalize the conflict. It is also not clear that Malians in Bamako and the south want to see visible military activity from Western countries.”
ECOWAS Meeting on Friday
On Friday, West African leaders met in Ivory Coast to discuss the ongoing Mali crisis. On the agenda were negotiation options with the Islamist group or the need for a military intervention. One African diplomat noted that “Friday's summit was expected to back negotiation while confirming that a military option is no longer merely wishful thinking”.
W. African leaders meet on Mali crisis
Source: AFP 29/6/2012
Analysis: Intervention options in northern Mali
Source: IRIN 21/6/2012
Security Council Press Statement on Mali
Source: UN Department of Public Information 18/6/2012
The latest situation report by OCHA mentions that, as of 26 June, the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) within Mali was estimated at 158,857. The number of Malian refugees in neighbouring countries (Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger) is now 181,742. Some 30,000 refugees are believed to have fled to Algeria.
The Consolidated Appeal for Mali has been released and organisations require USD 213 million in 2012 to assist 5.06 million people affected by the food and nutrition crisis and 2.2 million people directly affected by the conflict. As of 26 June, donors have committed US$79.8 million, or 37 per cent of total requirements.
Meanwhile an outbreak of locusts has been reported that could further devastate the drought-ridden country.
Complex Emergency Situation Report No.10
Source: Reliefweb (OCHA) 27/6/2012
MALI: Locusts could spread in rebel-held north
Source: Irin 26/6/2012
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