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Apr 3, 2013

Analysis: Mali insurgency endangers French pull-out plan

PARIS (Reuters) – France wants to cut its forces in Mali sharply by the year-end and is urging its ex-colony to hold elections in July, but an Islamist insurgency is threatening that timetable.

Many people in northern Mali who lived under the rebels’ brutal form of Islamic law last year are apprehensive about French plans to leave just 1,000 of the current 4,000 troops in the country by December, with U.N. peacekeepers filling the gap.

Mar 28, 2013

Azerbaijan, Armenia deal on disputed area unlikely: Karabakh PM

PARIS (Reuters) – Azerbaijan and Armenia are unlikely to reach a deal this year over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and there is a risk of the region sliding towards a war, the enclave’s prime minister said on Thursday.

A conflict between ethnic Azeris and Armenians erupted in 1991 over the area – a mountainous enclave within Azerbaijan with a majority Armenian population – after Armenian-backed forces seized it and seven surrounding Azeri districts.

Mar 27, 2013

Kosovo hopeful on deal with Serbia to end ethnic partition

PARIS (Reuters) – Kosovo’s foreign minister said on Wednesday he anticipated a breakthrough with Serbia when the two countries’ prime ministers meet next week to discuss an end to the ethnic partition of the former Serbian province.

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s 2008 secession, but is under pressure from the European Union to improve ties and help overcome a split between Kosovo’s Albanian majority and a small Serb enclave in the north.

Mar 26, 2013

Mali mission forces Hollande to rethink French defence cuts

PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) – French President Francois
Hollande is delaying a decision until later in the year on
slashing the country’s defence budget as part of cost-cutting
measures after meeting stiff resistance from parliament in the
aftermath of the Mali war.

The Socialist government is battling to reduce state
spending by 60 billion euros ($78 billion) over Hollande’s
five-year term, and was forced this month to order ministries to
save an extra 5 billion in 2014 as its deficit target receded.

Mar 21, 2013

Chad rebels say to resume fight, Deby’s promises unmet

PARIS (Reuters) – Chadian rebels said on Thursday they would take up arms again against President Idriss Deby after he failed to negotiate with them since they agreed to stop fighting more than two years ago.

The Union of Forces of Resistance (UFR), a rebel coalition, put down their weapons after Chad and Sudan agreed to end their proxy wars in 2010 by ceasing their support for insurgents in each other’s country.

Mar 21, 2013

Chad foreign minister warns against early Mali exit

PARIS (Reuters) – Chad warned France and its African allies on Thursday against crying victory too soon in the fight against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, saying only 70 percent of the battle was won in the country’s desolate far north.

Chad’s Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat urged African nations to send troops to the frontline in the rugged Adrar des Ifoghas mountains where 2,400 Chadian soldiers are battling pockets of die-hard Islamists, together with French forces.

Mar 20, 2013

ICC prosecutor says Kenyatta case will go to trial

PARIS (Reuters) – The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Wednesday that Kenya president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta would face a trial on charges of crimes against humanity but when that would happen was unknown.

Kenyatta, whose election earlier this month is being challenged by his rival, faces charges at the ICC over bloodshed in the aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 election.

Mar 20, 2013

Central African Republic rebels end truce

PARIS/BANGUI, March 20 (Reuters) – Rebels in the Central
African Republic called off a truce on Wednesday, accusing the
government of reneging on a January peace deal, but said they
would give regional mediators a chance to settle the dispute
before they resumed fighting.

The Seleka rebel group, which came close to taking the
capital Bangui late last year, said a 72-hour deadline for the
president to honour the terms of the deal had now passed.

Mar 19, 2013

Mali needs aid to rebuild north, stop militant return: France

LYON, France (Reuters) – Donors need to pour aid into Mali over the next six months to rebuild its strife-hit north and stop defeated militants taking advantage of the chaos to return, France’s development minister said on Tuesday.

Paris launched a ground and air operation in its former colony in January to break Islamist rebels’ hold on the northern two-thirds of the country, saying the militants posed a risk to the security of West Africa and Europe.

Mar 18, 2013

Nigerian blasts kill at least 25, Islamists suspected

KANO, Nigeria/PARIS (Reuters) – Five explosions at a bus park in northern Nigeria’s main city of Kano killed at least 25 people on Monday, a Reuters witness said, in an area where Islamist sect Boko Haram is waging an insurgency against the government.

The coordinated bombing came as an audio tape emerged of a man saying he was the father of a family of seven French tourists kidnapped by Boko Haram militants.