West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
Jul 24, 2013

Special Report: How U.S. drug sting targeted West African military chiefs

DAKAR (Reuters) – It was late afternoon as the speedboat cut across the waters off West Africa for its rendezvous with guns and drugs.

Behind lay the steamy shore of Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest countries on the planet. Ahead lay the Al Saheli, a luxurious 115-foot white motor yacht with tinted black windows.

Jul 12, 2013

Mali’s rush to post-war election raises fears of further strife

DAKAR/GAO, Mali (Reuters) – Mali’s presidential hopefuls kicked off campaigning this week for a July 28 election intended to draw a line under a coup and an Islamist uprising, despite concerns that a rushed poll may sow the seeds of future strife.

France, which sent 3,000 troops to Mali in January to halt an offensive by al Qaeda-linked Islamists, has pressed hard for a July poll, eager to see an elected government in place to negotiate with Tuareg rebels in the north and to reform a dysfunctional state that imploded last year.

May 31, 2013

Insight: Libya becomes ‘the new Mali’ as Islamists shift in Sahara

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Suicide attacks on a French-run mine and a military base in northern Niger have shown how an Islamist threat is spreading across the weak nations of the Sahara, meaning France may be tied down there for years to come.

Regional rivalries are aggravating the problem for Paris and its Western allies, with a lack of cooperation between Saharan countries helping militants to melt away when they come under pressure and regroup in quieter parts of the vast desert.

May 31, 2013

Libya becomes “the new Mali” as Islamists shift in Sahara

BAMAKO, May 31 (Reuters) – Suicide attacks on a French-run
mine and a military base in northern Niger have shown how an
Islamist threat is spreading across the weak nations of the
Sahara, meaning France may be tied down there for years to come.

Regional rivalries are aggravating the problem for Paris and
its Western allies, with a lack of cooperation between Saharan
countries helping militants to melt away when they come under
pressure and regroup in quieter parts of the vast desert.

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.