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Published 12th April 2013

Vol 54 No 8


Mali

The campaign stretches out

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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France commits to a long war just three months after launching its biggest military operation in Africa in 50 years

The official version is that France’s Mali operation has achieved all its objectives – the expulsion of jihadist forces from main northern towns and the destruction of several bases in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains – apart from the rescue of seven hostages still held in the region. This week the withdrawal began, with 100 or so French soldiers going home. France had airlifted 4,000 troops to Mali and sent another 2,000 from its bases in Chad and Côte d’Ivoire. Initially, French President François Hollande’s government had said that all French troops would be out after elections were organised: they are scheduled for July. However, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who has been sceptical about the operation from the start, announced on a 5 April visit to Bamako that France would maintain a ‘support force’ of 1,000 soldiers in Mali on a ‘permanent basis’. This was France’s first public commitment to a long-term military presence. It was more forceful coming from the cautious Fabius rather than the more bullish Defence Minister, Jean-Yves le Drian.


Training regime

As the military operation in Mali continues, fresh complications arise. Early reports from the European trainers suggest that progress in restoring the discipline and effectiveness...


Lords of misrule

Confusion reigned at the summit on CAR’s future while the new rulers could not halt the prolonged plunder of the capital. The omens are poor

The Ndjamena summit called to resolve the crisis in Central African Republic was nearly as chaotic as Bangui itself. Members of the Communauté économique des états de l’Afrique cen...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

When Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President of Kenya on 9 April, his supporters celebrated a double victory: his narrow win over Raila Odinga and the defeat of Western detractors who predicted that his indictment by the International Criminal Court would undermine Kenya’s diplomatic position. The reverse has been the case. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni led the charge at the inauguration: ‘I want to salute the Kenyan voters...on the rejection of the blackmail by the International Crimi...
When Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President of Kenya on 9 April, his supporters celebrated a double victory: his narrow win over Raila Odinga and the defeat of Western detractors who predicted that his indictment by the International Criminal Court would undermine Kenya’s diplomatic position. The reverse has been the case. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni led the charge at the inauguration: ‘I want to salute the Kenyan voters...on the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court.’ Museveni, whose own government is locked in battle with Western governments over the freezing of over US$300 million of aid funds due to claims of government corruption, reinforced his point: ‘the usual opinionated and arrogant actors’ were trying to ‘install leaders of their choice in Africa’ with the help of the ICC. Since Kenyatta’s election, Western governments have been backtracking on their threat to sever all but ‘essential contacts’ with the presidency. United States Ambassador Robert Godec met Kenyatta last week and European ambassadors have also sought meetings to resolve any misunderstandings. We hear that British Prime Minister David Cameron now wants a policy of constructive engagement: Kenya is Britain’s biggest trading partner in the region and will be a hub for East Africa’s fast-growing oil and gas industry. Relations will be critical for Britain’s efforts to help stabilise Somalia, where Kenya has deployed several thousand troops.
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