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Friday 25 January 2013

Mali: New Rebel Faction Wants Talks with Government

A round up news,compiled by Newsfromafrica's Staff Writers.

Bamako---A breakaway faction of Mali’s Islamist rebels fighting in the country’s northern region has said it’s ready to hold negotiations with the government to end the French-led offense after splitting from the main rebel group.

The Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA) split from the Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith, in Arabic) a Tuareg-led group that was instrumental in the rebel takeover of the northern Mali last year from the government forces.

The MIA group has called on the Mali and France running a joint military operation in the north, to cease hostilities in the regions of Kidal and Menaka it occupies, “to create a climate of peace which will pave the way for an inclusive political dialogue”.

This is the second time the Ansar Dine group has hinted at holding talks with the government, after envoys from the outfit met with regional mediators in November but no further effort on the negotiations was made.

In a statement released Thursday, MIA said it had denounced all forms of extremism and terrorism and now it wanted a peaceful solution to the Mali crisis.

"We want to wage our war and not that of AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb]," Alghabass Ag Intallah, a senior member of MIA told Reuters news agency by telephone.

He said the new outfit was now composed of only Malians, which is demanding for a broader autonomy rather than independence for the northern region.

The broader Ansar Dine is reportedly made up of Islamist fighters from Mali and other African states including Algeria and Nigeria.

The group had formed loose alliances with AQIM and the Islamist group, MUJWA, in the fight for control of the northern territory they want independent but have since fallen out and seen the Islamists pushing the Tuaregs from all their positions.

The Tuaregs are seeking a secular north they refer to as the independent state of Azawad, while the Islamists want to impose Islamic rule in the region.

The call for talks comes two weeks into the French-led joint operation with Malian troops in the north to push back rebels holding the region following their recent incursion southwards, threatening to overrun the capital Bamako.

French continued to intensify its land and air campaigns on rebel installations that has seen recover of several central towns, as forces from the regional bloc, Ecowas continue to position to take over the mission from the French.

On Thursday air strikes by French warplanes targeting the town of Ansongo, about 80km from central town of Gao destroyed two rebel bases, causing great damage to the Islamists who have started abandoning their positions into the vast lawless desert region.


Tripoli, Libya 

Foreign Ministries Urge Nationals to Leave Benghazi

Britain, Germany and the Netherlands have urged their citizens to immediately evacuate Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, following threats of imminent attacks against western foreigners.

Foreign ministries of the three European nations issued statements ordering their nationals to leave Benghazi immediately over the threats attacks which they described as imminent and specific but gave no further details.

Benghazi is the former stronghold of the 2011 uprising against slain leader Muammar Gaddafi and has become ill-famed in recent months with violence targeting foreigners in attacks blamed on Islamists.

On September 11 four Americans including the ambassador to Libya were killed in a bomb attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

Recent incident involved the attack of Italian consul Guido De Sanctis’s car by militants in the same city where no one was injured, but prompted temporary suspension of it mission and sending its foreign staff home.

The advisory is seen informed with this week’s testimony by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Congress about the September 11 attack on its mission in Benghazi. It also follows recent French mission in Mali that had attracted hostage taking of foreigner by Islamists extremists in Algeria.

Benghazi, inhibited by over one million people, is a city with booming business and employs many foreign workers but recent attacks have seen may leave in fear over targeted attacks.

Many Rebel groups which fought in the revolution still remain heavily armed and have engaged in inter-clashes over territory control raising concerns of whether the interim authorities will assert it force on such groups.

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