West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
May 21, 2013

EU mission seeks to rebuild Mali army after U.S. faltered

KOULIKORO, Mali (Reuters) – Under a blazing sun and the critical gaze of British and Irish instructors, a line of 11 Malian soldiers lie prone in the dust firing AK-47 rounds at targets, one-by-one.

“One out of 10 – not very good,” Captain Ibrahim Soumassa, commander of the Malian unit, tells one of the men. “We’re at 25 meters. When we’re at 100, it’ll be difficult.”

May 19, 2013

After crushing Mali Islamists, France pushes deal with Tuaregs

BAMAKO (Reuters) – After winning adulation across Mali for a five month military offensive that crushed al Qaeda fighters, France is now frustrating some of its allies by pushing for a political settlement with a separate group of Tuareg rebels.

A standoff over how to restore Malian government authority to Kidal, the last town in the desert north yet to be brought under central control, is sowing resentment with Paris and could delay planned elections to restore democracy after a coup.

May 18, 2013

Armed Tuareg and Arab groups clash in northern Mali

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Fighting has broken out in northern Mali between Tuareg separatists and local Arab-led gunmen, only days after the African country won a $4.2 billion aid pledge to help it recover from a conflict with Islamists affiliated to al Qaeda.

Rebel and military sources both confirmed the clashes, although they differed over precisely which groups were involved.

Apr 23, 2013

Iran’s wooing of Africa yields scant results as sanctions bite

DAKAR, April 23 (Reuters) – Before Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad started a visit to Niger last week, there was talk
that the poor West African state might add Iran to its list of
buyers for the uranium mined in its remote desert north.

Such a deal would have alarmed world powers seeking to have
Iran curb its shadowy nuclear programme. But the outcome of
Ahmadinejad’s trip was far less spectacular: an agreement on
visas for diplomats and another on health cooperation.

Apr 17, 2013

U.S. drugs sting misses Bissau army chief – sources

DAKAR (Reuters) – U.S. anti-drugs agents who snared Guinea-Bissau’s former Navy chief in a high-seas sting last week were also targeting the head of the West African state’s army, sources familiar with the operation told Reuters.

Guinea-Bissau General Antonio Indjai – widely seen as the coup-prone nation’s most powerful man – declined to meet undercover agents in international waters where he had been told he could seal a lucrative deal to smuggle cocaine and supply weapons to Colombian rebels, sources said.

Apr 17, 2013

Drugs sting misses Bissau army chief : sources

DAKAR (Reuters) – U.S. anti-drugs agents who snared Guinea-Bissau’s former Navy chief in a high-seas sting last week were also targeting the head of the West African state’s army, sources familiar with the operation told Reuters.

Guinea-Bissau General Antonio Indjai – widely seen as the coup-prone nation’s most powerful man – declined to meet undercover agents in international waters where he had been told he could seal a lucrative deal to smuggle cocaine and supply weapons to Colombian rebels, sources said.

Apr 14, 2013

Chad says troops unsuited to guerrilla war, quitting Mali

DAKAR (Reuters) – Chad will withdraw its troops from Mali where they risk being bogged down in guerrilla war after helping to drive Islamists from northern towns, President Idriss Deby said in comments broadcast on Sunday.

His words came days after a suicide bomber killed three Chadian troops in the northern town of Kidal, demonstrating how al Qaeda-linked Islamists are still able to strike in the heavily-defended towns they once controlled.

Apr 11, 2013

West Africa leading Central Africa on business reforms: investor

DAKAR (Reuters) – West Africa nations are racing ahead of their Central African counterparts in deepening economic integration and slashing red tape to open up regional business opportunities, a private equity fund manager said.

Patrice Backer, chief operating officer for Advanced Finance and Investment Group (AFIG), said his $72 million fund was invested in finance, mining and agricultural services in the small but rapidly growing economies along Africa’s Atlantic Coast.

Mar 13, 2013

Insight: Islamist inroads in Mali may undo French war on al Qaeda

TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – Residents who slipped into a non-descript mud-brick house after Islamist fighters fled Mali’s desert town of Timbuktu uncovered a trove of arms, ammunition and documents – the workings of the local al Qaeda recruitment office.

“We found lots of IDs, passports and birth certificates,” said El Hadj Garaba, who searched through the house with neighbors before French intelligence officers arrived.

Feb 15, 2013

France’s Mali job “not nearly finished”: Tuareg officer

GAO, Mali (Reuters) – The top Tuareg officer in Mali’s army urged France on Friday to keep its forces in Mali for as long as it takes to drive out Islamist rebels for good.

Colonel El Hadj Ag Gamou, who remained loyal to Mali’s government last year when fellow Tuaregs rebelled, said an early withdrawal by French troops would allow the Islamist forces, linked to al Qaeda, to regain ground lost in a five-week-old French-led offensive.