West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
Jul 28, 2013

Mali scrambles to be ready for Sunday’s ‘fresh start’ vote

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Malian election officials scrambled to distribute voting material for an election on Sunday intended to provide a fresh start to a country divided by a coup and a war in its desert north.

Candidates wound up campaigns promising reconstruction and reconciliation but, underscoring security fears despite a successful French offensive against al Qaeda-linked fighters, an Islamist group threatened to attack polling stations.

Jul 25, 2013

Election offers new start for Mali, but no magic wand

BAMAKO (Reuters) – When Mali imploded last year – its president ousted by mutinous soldiers and its north seized by separatist and Islamist rebels – many called for an overhaul of the West African state’s flawed democracy, once held up as a model of stability.

Sunday’s presidential election in the Sahel state, which experienced turmoil and conflict for over a year, including a French-led military intervention from January, provides the chance for a fresh start to rebuild and unite the nation.

Jul 24, 2013

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 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.